As COVID deaths and infections increase, we must mask up

Do we have a responsibility to protect each other from the Coronavirus? Some say yes, others say no.

Nationally, it appears that experts are beginning to agree that three actions, if followed by the majority of the nation, could help control the spread of the Coronavirus: frequent hand washing, social distancing, and wearing face masks.

There are many that question whether they should follow any of these pandemic prescriptions because they distrust any mandates from the government that erodes their civil rights.

In our community, there are still thousands that are flaunting all safety rules to stage events that flirt with death.

Recently, a local group staged an outdoor event in the Buckhorn Bend area that attracted hundreds of people anxious to have a good time. They rode horses, danced, and partied in a legal gathering that otherwise would not have been a problem except that social distancing rules were not followed.

Photos appeared in social media of the large crowd tightly packed together with only a sprinkling of mask wearers in the crowd.

The participants were mostly young and healthy, and the event was outside and away from the city. What’s the problem?
Like many others around the country, this event’s sponsors were either oblivious to the nature of the Coronavirus, or they simply did not care. In Monroe, street parties are held regularly, drawing as many as 200 people. The fun and revelry of the party is often replaced by the sadness and grief that follows.

While partygoers, or those who participate in non-conforming social events, have a right to live on the edge, most of them, if infected, will go home and bring the infection to parents, siblings, or relatives, unaware that they have been exposed.

The African-American community is extremely vulnerable to the virus because very few of us do not have some of the underlying conditions that can become deadly when exposed to COVID 19.

An easy, but not exclusive, way to figure whether you are vulnerable is to count the medicine bottles in your cabinet. Many of us are taking a half dozen pills a day to stay alive. When mixed with a virus brought home by a non-compliant family member, that vulnerability has meant death for scores of people in our community.

In about a week, there is a strong possibility that many of those who attended socially unsafe events a week ago, will see the impact either on themselves or family members.

Those who wear masks who are not medical technicians or first responders do so to insure that their friends and family members are not infected by innocent exposure. Those who do not wear a mask seem not to care whether they infect others.

Those who stage any type of public gathering have a responsibility to insure that those who attend do so safely. It means if you intend to have a gathering insist that all of those who attend wear a mask and stay masked during the event. Insure that there is sufficient hand sanitizer and insist that crowds be socially distanced (6 feet apart in all directions). If it’s impossible to do that, then it may not be safe to host your event.

In the African-American community wearing a mask is not a political statement as much as it is in other quarters. Those who don’t wear masks do not hold to an elusive political agenda that believes the whole COVID pandemic is created to upend Donald Trump. We doubt that politics has anything to do with whether we wear masks or not.

Unfortunately, the real problem seems to be that many believe that they will not be infected for a variety of reasons that range from being “covered by the blood of Jesus” to “It won’t affect us because we have plenty of melanin in our skin.”

It all spells misinformation.

We are not immune to the virus, and even if we were, we should be concerned about how we may negatively affect others.

To defeat the virus, we must do our part. Mask up, sanitize, and stay socially distanced; that’s the key.

We must do our part to defeat this virus regardless of how uncomfortable we become.