Masks - The New Norm
The new norm in the US will be to wear a mask when you're sick.
This is a cultural hurdle that has taken a pandemic to finally get over. It's not something that we treat as normal or American. This COVID-19 pandemic is finally waking us up to the understanding of how viruses spread and how we can mitigate the spread.
It's all too common to apologize for being sick around friends, coworkers, and family — telling them not to hug, shake hands, or share food. What we are now realizing is that instead of saying sorry, we can actually take preventative measures to protect those around us. Not only that, but it is our responsibility to stop anyone else from catching our cold.
I left the house two days ago for the first time in almost a week and it was the first time in my life that I felt wrong for not wearing a mask. It felt like almost half of the people we passed were wearing a mask. The cultural norm of not wearing a mask has felt strong. It used to feel strange to see others wearing one as well. Not to mention that the media has hammered the idea that it's almost immoral to wear a mask because medical professionals need the masks more.
It's probably the case that the average person never needs to wear an N-95 mask in their life. We are starting to understand that stopping the spread of any illness is important and covering your mouth with anything is definitely better than nothing.
As I write this, the CDC has finally recommended that we wear a mask when we go outside. I went outside today and wore my mask the whole time. It felt like the right thing to do.
As we get more used to taking these preventative safety measures, I have faith that we will continue to do the right thing in the future. The amount of education the world is receiving on how disease spreads is amazing and hopefully will make a lasting impact on behavior throughout the world.
I wish I could predict that we'll never see another person leave a restroom without washing their hands! I'm not so optimistic on that one. Hopefully we'll see everyone (those of us who wash our hands!) washing for a little longer though.