The summary of this post is pretty much going to be: Stay at home and wear a mask when you absolutely have to go out!
There will likely be some reference to the ‘Don’t be a Dick’ wall-hanging in my man cave that was the most amazing gift from my family-in-law a year or so ago. The two are not so far removed from each other.
It will come with anecdotal urgings, such as the friendship i pretty much lost at the start of lockdown when one of my online poker buddies bragged about breaking the laws of lockdown to go on his own runs on the mountain, declaring that it was wrong but he didn’t care. i actually lost my whole poker group of not-super-close buddies because of that and i would do it again. i will not let your attitude of “I am beyond the rules!” pass by unchallenged. i really enjoy playing poker and i loved my games with that crew, but i also really prefer it when people don’t die as a result of people i know being irresponsible. Was he personally responsible for people dying? Probably not. But it’s an attitude like that which gives others permission who might not be in as safe circumstances where it doesn’t matter as much.
i will mention the poem i wrote the other day titled ‘Breathe their last’ which feels like one of the best poems i have written in a long while, in the hope that you will go and give it a read if you haven’t yet had a chance. Comparing present-day not-mask-wearers to past-day executioners, except perhaps with less of a conscience.
But it will also come with a fair amount of science, such as this passage from a recent briefing:
Richard Stutt, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, on Wednesday published a model in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A that showed widespread use of face masks and coverings can help to reduce the new coronavirus’ spread—even if the masks or coverings don’t provide complete protection against droplets that may contain the pathogen. Stutt said wearing face masks or coverings can help to significantly curb the coronavirus’ transmission when paired with lockdown orders.
“You can do lockdown, you can do masks, but you get the best result when you combine them,” Stutt said.
[Advisory.com Daily Briefing, 16 June]
And, while it is not an exact science, because doctors and researchers are very much still trying to figure this thing out, there does seem to be enough evidence to suggest these findings are strongly likely at the very least: The researchers found that “airborne transmission” appears to be “the dominant route for infection” from the new coronavirus, according to the study. In addition, they found that coronavirus infection trends changed once governments enforced mask-wearing rules in Italy in April 6 and in New York City on April 17.
In New York, for instance, the daily new infection rate dropped by 3% per day after a policy requiring that people wear face masks or coverings in public took effect, the researchers found. Overall, the researchers estimated that requirements related to face masks and coverings “significantly reduced the number of infections … by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9.”
[Advisory.com Daily Briefing, 16 June]
It is getting closer
This should really not have to be the motivator. We should be actively engaging in this because we are decent human beings.
But because too many of us seem to operate from a base of selfishness, let’s break it down a little more.
On the Twitterer there is a daily train of announcements of people who have lost family to Covid_19.
Every day, almost every hour, i read another heart-breaking story of someone who has lost a parent or a sibling. And it is devastating to read. Each time it is accompanied by a deep and what feels like gutteral plea to PLEASE STAY AT HOME!
You don’t want to face this!
Beyond those dying though, i have also read enough stories from people who are still sick or who have recovered. Who are literally begging people to stay at home and not go out because YOU DO NOT WANT THIS! Describing the symptoms and some of the post-disease side effects, many which are likely to stay with them for the rest of their lives.
In South Africa, it started in another province. Then it was in our province. Then it was numbers on the screen. Which became someone that someone you know knows. Before too long it became a friend or relative of someone you know. When does that number, that statistic, become someone with a name that is familiar to me? Someone who i deeply care about?
Before it’s someone they know
THIS REALLY SHOULD NOT MATTER! It should not have to take that level of intimacy for me to take it seriously [and fortunately, in my case it hasn’t – we’ve been taking this thing more than seriously from day 1] But from the look of just how many surfers were illegally in the water in Muizenberg the other day [literally hundreds!] and the amount of people not wearing masks, and videos of shtupidt men in pharmacies getting aggro for being challenged for not wearing a mask, there is much work to be done. My fear is that it will take the death of someone they know for them to take it seriously.
i don’t know of a single person, on the Twitterer or in real life, who knows someone personally who has died, that is complacent about masks and social distancing and staying at home. Those who get it because they have lost someone they care about really really get it.
It really sucks when the ones doing it right have to babysit the ones who aren’t. But i’m convinced that someone who is not wearing a mask and not keeping to social distancing rules will not have made it this far into this post. Which is why we have to take it on.
Not only is it necessary for us to wear masks and social distance as much as possible and be strict in terms of how much exposure we put ourselves and others to. i’m convinced this is a #NotOnOurWatch issue. And it can be hard with randoms in the street and it really does feel hard to call people out in those spaces – Val and i have struggled to on one of our rare walks in a mostly secluded area… But we absolutely HAVE to start doing it when it is our friends and our family. Even if it means we lose our poker groups, maybe for good.
i don’t want to spend time with someone whose attitude puts other people’s lives at risk anyways. And neither should you.
Don’t wait til someone you know dies for you to start taking this stuff more seriously. It is getting closer every day and if that hasn’t happened already, it will likely happen soon. Make sure you and yours are not the ones with the guilty conscience because you ‘needed’ that take out coffee, or that restaurant experience, or that walk or surf.
And this post is very specifically aimed at those who have options to do better in these areas. There is no need to find yourself in a crowd of a thousand people wandering along the Seapoint beach front.
Trust the Science. And if the Science is not sure, then err on the side of being safe.
This might not be about you catching the disease or even dying from it if you do. It’s about all of the people your selfish behaviour might needlessly affect and cause harm to. Do what you need to do when it comes to work and surviving. But when it comes to pleasure or enjoyment or cabin fever, make good choices.
And please, just wear a adjective mask already!