Would you mask for life?

I asked a group of people of different ages on Monday whether they would continue to wear masks once they had been fully vaccinated and the government had declared the pandemic over. Almost everyone agreed that they would continue to wear masks when shopping throughout the community. It is a story that is finding its way across Canada. Everyone now feels safer wearing a mask than not wearing a mask.

Following the Sars outbreak in Asia, most countries of the region adopted wearing a mask as necessary to protecting oneself and each other. When I travelled to South Korea, I was surprised at how many of its citizens wore the masks in public and on the subway line. The mask was a common garment in both winter and summer months.

We have participated in one of the largest health experiments ever recorded. Wearing masks has for over a century has been proven to be a safe medical necessity. For over 15 months the world has recommended the wearing of masks to protect each other from the Covid virus. We were protecting ourselves and protecting others that we came in contact with.

With surprising results, the traditional flu season in Australia disappeared. In North America, the expected surge of patients suffering from flu didn’t happen. The cold season with respiratory complications that often-filled hospital beds did not happen. The common theme was that wearing face masks reduced the transfer of the common flu and the cold viruses. The unexpected results of wearing masks confirmed their value in health care when they were worn by everyone in public.

Canada has worked hard to make mask wearing the norm. If future studies confirm the significant benefits of this practice, do we really want to undo all this effort? We are not advocating for mask mandates or restrictive rules as they currently exist – but rather the maintenance of a new norm, based on collective goodwill and the realization of how many lives we could save by continuing this practice.

I am hoping people can instead come to see them as a tremendous gift we have given some of our most vulnerable citizens, protecting them from serious illness and even death. And I hope people will embrace the ongoing use of masks, even after the pandemic recedes.

The case for continuing to wear face masks has been made. The mask protects everyone.

Get used to wearing the mask throughout your life.

Jim Cumming
Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times

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