I feel I have to write something about this pandemic. So much has already been written, that I never felt I could really contribute anything of substance. However, I did think about the pandemic a lot. What else is there to do when in lockdown? Lots, really, and as a fibre artist, I jumped on the mask-making frenzy, offering exclusive designs for discerning wearers. Which brings me to the topic I have been thinking about: masks. I applaud the fact that all merchants, offices, and enclosed spaces require one to wear masks; even restaurants.
Related to mask wearing, the pandemic made me notice other things as well.
For instance, I was unaware of the high level of illiteracy in this town. Many people still enter stores and enclosed spaces without a mask, or with a mask hanging from their ear, or a mask not covering both the nose and the mouth. It must be that they cannot read the myriad of signs posted, sometimes in many languages, that not only explain how to wear a mask, but that basically say, No mask, No entry.
Another for instance. Throughout the 6 months of the declared pandemic and various levels of movement restrictions, I was surprised to see many police vehicles with two officers in the car, windows rolled up, with neither wearing a mask. Or, if outside, standing close to each other, less than 2m apart, again, without a mask. I have not had to interact with law enforcement agents, so I do not know if they wear a mask when interacting with the public. They are in the business of protection, protecting the public. So as our first line of defence, what message are they sending us? and what about protecting, their colleagues?
And another: the other day I was delivering groceries to my elderly mother in law. I had to take the elevator. I loved that the signs for wearing masks were multilingual, including Innu. There was also a sign to remind you of the 2 meter physical distancing when in the elevator. As the doors of the elevator opened as it reached the main floor, three maintenance personnel exited from it. None was wearing a mask. Ok, maybe they were all siblings living in the same house. However, they were in a public space, i.e. lobby of an apartment building, therefore should have been wearing a mask. I had my grocery cart with me. When I entered the elevator, I was the only person in it, so I laid the cart down on the elevator – just for curiosity, to gauge the surface of the elevator floor. The elevator was 2m wide.
I also wondered how the 2 meters, which is actually 6,6 feet (not 6 feet), became the magic measure.
The virus is airborne, right? That much I learned. So does air stop moving after 2 meters, 6,6 feet? What if the wind picks up and moves the air towards me?
I always think about when I am walking outside and a runner or a cyclists passes me on the opposite direction. Have you ever noticed that the smell of the fabric softener or sunscreen they use, lingers after they have passed you?
An my last for instance – I was invited to go to the restaurant up the road as it advertised “safe indoor dining”. It sounded so great, to go out, do something normal. And then I started thinking. So you were a mask to go into the restaurant. You sit at a table, still wearing a mask, exchange pleasantries with the not-of-your-bubble friend, read the printed, disposable menu, and place your order to a well-masked server. Fellow diners are seated far away, so it’s probably quite nice, hushed conversations, few servers. Then the food arrives. The first thing one has to do, is take the mask off. And here is where my average intelligence started firing on all pistons. Even if you were having dinner with a person of your own bubble, other diners, who have taken off their masks, are not. And yes, the restaurant is well ventilated and the HEPA filters are in place and whatever. But we do know that the virus is airborne. So before the air is sucked into the filter, it has to travel…
I consider myself a person of average intelligence. I don’t know much about aerodynamics, even less about epidemiology. So just to be on the safe side, I will continue to wear a mask until the air is clear.