It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would eschew wearing a mask during a pandemic.

Without intending to put anyone down, truly, I would surmise they have a death wish.

Morning Sentinel reporter and columnist Amy Calder is seen wearing a mask. Photo courtesy of Amy Calder

Or are dismissive of others.

Or are so afraid of COVID-19 that they are in serious denial.

Or have never been seriously ill.

I say this because when I see on the television news those poor souls lying on their stomachs on ventilators in hospital beds, it strikes the fear in me so strong that I can’t imagine not doing everything in my power to ensure the safety of myself and others.

I often wonder if a survey were taken, asking those who don’t wear masks if they have ever been seriously ill, most would say they have not.

Because those of us who have been close to meeting the Grim Reaper know all too intimately and painfully just how horrible and scary it is.

And we certainly never would wish it on anyone else.

I remember in vivid detail some 25 years ago, crouched on the floor of a hospital bathroom in the middle of the night, in excruciating pain, praying to God that I’d do anything to have him take that pain away. I’d been hospitalized several times for an autoimmune disease.

Fortunately, with excellent doctors and a supportive family, I was able to undergo life-saving surgery that left me, ultimately, healthy and pain-free.

But it was a long, arduous road, and one I would never want to travel again.

I have read about people who dismissed the coronavirus until they became ill with COVID-19 and then had an epiphany. One man, before he died of the disease, told his nurse he had made a mistake.

What a sad, tragic way to learn the reality of this terrible disease.

I have to lay part of the blame on those who know better and dismiss the wearing of a simple face covering as responding to an “overblown” situation. I hear that word often from naysayers.

But science tells us masks help curb the spread of the virus.

And I’m going to go out on a limb and say those who don’t wear them — for anything other than a medical reason — are either uneducated, brainwashed, foolish or just plain cruel.

I’m sure those sentiments will draw nasty feedback, but you know what? Sometimes we must have the courage of our convictions and tell it like it is.

I love my friends, family and fellow Americans too much to be silent on such a critical issue. I hate watching people get sick and die.

And I am incensed that doctors and nurses are exhausted, having to work day and night in packed hospitals, trying to save lives while putting their own at risk.

All while people continue to host or attend mass gatherings, many mask-less.

As we head into winter, the numbers of infections and deaths are increasing, just as the experts said they would back in March.

Why aren’t national health experts addressing us via a special, daily television broadcast, advising us, mandating we wear masks and prohibiting large gatherings?

Where is the leadership we need?

We in Maine are fortunate to have Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, who has led us down a safer path. I shudder to think where we would be without him.

But, as one who feels lucky to have the gift of empathy, I continue to hurt for those who are sick — and their families. This nationwide disaster could have been avoided, and the impact lessened, by the simple wearing of masks.

I pray that the naysayers, ultimately, will see the light.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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