Letter to the editor: Johnson County, wear your mask!

The Irving Webster statue on Iowa Avenue in downtown Iowa City, wearing the recommended COVID-19 protection. June 24, 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

By Kent Williams, Iowa City

Last weekend I visited the North Dodge Hy-Vee, the Coralville Hy-Vee. Only about half the people were wearing masks. When I’ve visited other businesses, the people working there weren’t wearing masks. At my chiropractor’s office, no one was wearing a mask. If you visit the popular stores near Kalona, no one is wearing a mask.

Basketball and football games? Few wear masks. Watching the Iowa/Wisconsin men’s basketball game, there was Coach Fran McCaffrey, wearing his mask below his nose, and then pulling down his mask to yell. Let that sink in: in a time of pandemic where the primary means of spread is droplets breathed out by the infected, the highly paid coach of the basketball team takes his mask down to yell at players and game officials.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is in Iowa City and Johnson County. The test positivity rate is 21.69 percent, when early in the pandemic, a positivity rate above 5 percent was cause for concern. Many people who should know better. They have to know their risk of being infected and infecting others increases dramatically if they don’t wear an effective mask.

Iowa City has a story we tell ourselves, of being the UNESCO City of Literature, of being the Athens of the Midwest, of being a liberal beacon surrounded by a sea of conservative red. We imagine ourselves children of the enlightenment, concerned with doing the right thing, of caring about the welfare of our fellow citizens.

But right now, people in our city are not doing the absolute minimum to prevent widespread sickness with a disease that can cause death or long-term health problems.

I’ll ask nicely: Please get a good mask (N95 or KN95), and wear it when you’re in public. Wear it properly. It will protect you, and in the unfortunate case where you’re infected, it will protect others.

And I’ll also ask rudely: Wear your damn mask. Your “freedom” and “personal choice” don’t extend to potentially harming others, just because your glasses fog up, or you “can’t breathe.” I’ll tell you who can’t breathe, COVID-19 patients in intensive care on ventilators.

Wear your mask. Wear your mask. Wear your mask.

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