To the Editor:
There was something wrong with the photograph on the front page of the Sept. 10-16 Pike County Courier. The six smiling faces that attended the school board meeting on September 8 had an air of smugness. Perhaps it was their T-shirts loudly stating their position without any room for compromise: “No masks, no contract tracing, no vaccine, NOT AFRAID.” Atop each of these T-shirts sat a smiling head. I am happy for them. Truly. Happy Covid has not touched their lives, unlike the 660,000 Americans who have lost theirs to this virus.
The thing I am unhappy about is all six are missing the greater issue. We do not wear masks to protect ourselves. We wear masks to prevent the spread of a virus that unlike the flu or the common cold has no set rules. No precise list of symptoms. It can leave you feeling tired and listless for a few days, hinder you helpless on a ventilator or six feet under. This virus has a capriciousness about it that the modern world has never seen. It attacks those healthy and unhealthy, old and young with such a cavalier attitude that, frankly, I am afraid. I do not wish this virus upon myself, my family, my friends, my community nor the strangers I sit next to on the subway.
Yes I commute to NYC for work and when I return home to Pike County where the numbers are drastically lower I take every precaution. I am vaccinated, I mask up, social distance and get tested regularly. Why do I do all of this? Because unlike the people in that room who so glibly demanded no mask mandate for our children nor for the teachers and staff we pay through our tax dollars to teach them, I wish to keep my fellow citizens safe. It’s the morally correct thing to do.
This is not an issue of infringing on someone’s social freedoms or religious beliefs. It is about stepping up and doing what is right and just to protect your fellow citizens. So to those in that room, sitting there in your funny T-shirts, may you never be asymptomatic and spread the virus to someone else who ends up hospitalized because wearing a mask was simply to inconvenient for you. But since you are also against contract tracing you can blindly go through life with zero guilt. Taking the cowardly route, you will never know to whom you inadvertently spread the virus that may kill them for the sake of preserving your so-called freedom.
The needs of the one are always outweighed by the needs of the many. Hospital workers are exhausted with experienced doctors and nurses retiring at higher rates than ever. If nothing else, we need to help them be able to help us. One tool in our toolbox as everyday citizens is to put on a mask. It is so darn easy and such a small small sacrifice on our part.
For over a year now families have been mourning the loss of loved ones. For those that survive, many will need care down the road. We can expect health care costs to rise substantially as these Covid survivors age and battle the long term damage to their hearts, lungs or brains. I pray we will be able to afford to care for all of these Americans. That is a massive financial burden we are handing down to the next generation of citizens in this country.
Our children — our future teachers, caregivers, social workers, nurse and doctors, our future leaders, artists, scientists, engineers and dreamers — are falling behind because some refuse to allow them to attend school in a mask. Seriously? Do you hear how selfish that sounds? How unbelievable shortsighted this is? So go home and do as you please. Oh and do wash those T-shirts. May they shrink to within an inch of themselves. Because that’s truly how small you are, both in mind and stature.
Pamela Vander Zwan