Mask Or No Mask: Mercer County Residents Share Their Thoughts
Locals Have Strong Feelings On Wearing Face Masks
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is in the process of reopening after weeks of self-isolation and social distancing. The governor is asking citizens to continue healthy practices even as people return to work and other social venues. Along with washing hands and social distancing, he is asking citizens to wear masks in public as a precaution to reduce the spread of the virus.
Across the state and nation, there are definite and varied opinions on these measures. However, a sampling of Mercer Countians questioned Monday revealed that most plan to comply with the governor’s request—some even strongly support it.
“I believe wearing a mask is a small, but important sacrifice I can make for my community,” said Beth Camic. “Others before me have given so much for Mercer County, it’s the least I could do. I am already being safe at work and wearing a homemade mask when I’m in common areas.
“This is an unprecedented time in our country,” she added. “I remember another unprecedented time in our country, 9/11. I was a child then and felt so helpless and sad because I could not help. Now I have an opportunity and I will not shy away from the opportunity. I wear the mask for me and for you.”
The governor and health officials have stressed that the mask not only offers individuals some level of protection, but also serves as a shield for others.
“As we come out of self-quarantine and are strongly encouraged to wear a mask, I am prepared to respectfully follow the recommendations of the governor and his team of ‘experts’,” said William Huston. “Sure wearing of masks is uncomfortable and not always convenient, but in fighting a virus with so many unknowns we must not take chances with our health and that of others. This is not about government telling us what to do, but using good common sense in protecting others and keeping the appropriate social distancing between us and others. I am willing to follow these guidelines in order to begin coming out of isolation and resuming a level of normalcy.”
Elizabeth Springate describes wearing a mask as “just the right thing to do.”
“We have followed what the health experts and leaders have recommended and will continue to do so,” she said. “I have been wearing a mask when I’ve gone out of our home since March 13. My husband and I have several of the underlying health conditions. When we wear our masks, we feel better protected from others who might be carrying the virus. We also feel like we are protecting others by wearing a mask if we ourselves should be asymptomatic carriers. I would hate to spread it to someone who was vulnerable. That’s more guilt than I can carry. I hope others feel that way too.
“If I walk in a store and see very few with a masks on,” Springate continued, “I leave. I don’t want to take even a small chance on contracting Covid or spreading it. A lot of people say they don’t want to be told what to do and refuse to wear a mask or comply with the measures we’ve been given. That kind of attitude doesn’t help anyone at all. There’s no vaccine, drug or cure for it; we have nothing to fight the virus but what we do for ourselves and each other. I’ll do my part. I hope others will too!”
Springate said she will be slow to resume life as it was before the pandemic, but rather plans to remain in the confines of her home. “I’ll wait until numbers go down and I see more compliance,” she explained.
Real life has made David Roberts acutely aware of the dangers for those at-risk. His wife, Sara Roberts, has just completed chemotherapy for cancer and his sister, Sharon “Sherri” Roberts, is waiting to get on a kidney transplant list.
“I probably would have never given this virus a second thought and went about my daily life as normal, but with Sara and Sherri’s medical problems, it brings things home,” explained David Roberts. “I will definitely be observing all the safety recommendations. No, I’m not particularly fond of wearing these masks, but if it can save someone’s life, well that’s a small price to pay. Especially if it saves the life of someone you love.”
David Roberts is not alone in his belief that wearing a mask is the responsible thing to do—especially for those at-risk people.
“Wearing a mask for a short time while I shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible, is a minor inconvenience,” said Jewell Montgomery. “After all, medical personnel wear them all day long. Too, because I have a 90-year-old father that I check on almost daily, I wouldn’t want to be one of those asymptomatic people who could carry the virus home to him. The thoughts of him or any other family member choking, or suffering with a ventilator, all alone, is more than I can handle. By the way, he’s the same one who taught me to be unselfish, respect others, be responsible, and to do my civic and patriotic duty—that the world doesn’t revolve around me. That’s why I’m willing to wear a mask.”
“I have no problem with wearing a mask if it means even a tiny bit more protection for everyone,” said Sara Linn Cunningham. “Every little bit helps, in my opinion. Having a baby at home and family members with health concerns makes me more conscientious about staying healthy. I am grateful to others who are wearing masks when I go to the grocery because they are being considerate of other people’s health and safety. I try to make grocery trips as short as possible so I am not having to wear the mask for very long. I think wearing a mask is just a matter of showing love and care for others. Be kind and considerate. Wearing a mask in public is a small, easy way you can do that.”
Cindy Patterson Wilson, like others, is already wearing her mask and agrees that businesses should have the right to decline service for those who do not wear one. She, like Montgomery, does not want to think anyone had to go on a ventilator because of her.
“I have been wearing a mask from the time they were recommended,” she said. “I know it’s a very contagious virus as seen in some nursing homes and prison/ jails. I don’t know anyone personally that has had it, but do know some of my FB friends that have family that has had or have passed away due to Covid-19. If you have ever seen someone close to you on a ventilator, which I have, it will definitely make you take any precaution necessary to protect yourself and others. I will continue to wear my mask in all businesses and feel they have the right to refuse service for those that don’t.”
“I intend to make every effort to comply with the recommended procedures,” said Ritchie McGinnis. “While I’m not convinced a face mask is of great benefit if we are able to maintain distancing, I am willing to do it if it makes others feel safer.”
Not everyone supports the measures that have been taken, but will wear a mask where it is required.
“I know that there are those that believe that I don’t care for others but I do care,” said Dennis Worthington, explaining, “Here is how: I am willing—even with my underlying health problems— to be in the population majority that isn’t in quarantine. But I am really concerned about the elderly or anyone who has any type of underlying health condition and I believe they should stay in isolation/quarantine and away from everyone. I also feel that anyone who might have a legitimate fear of this virus should also stay in isolation. However, for our country’s economy to be shut down was not the way to handle this (my opinion) nor is it constitutional. I believe the rest of the population could have already gotten immune to this virus by now. I don’t think this virus is going anywhere—it’s here to stay just like the flu has many strains, measles outbreaks, mononucleosis, meningitis, H1N1 wasn’t a picnic. I know, I had it (and) was down for two weeks. Even our small kids have hand, foot and mouth disease spreading through our daycares. This list can get really long. Some aren’t deadly some could be avoided with a vaccination. But we cannot keep our state in lockdown like our governor is doing. There are states that never shut down at all and they are doing fine. Many states have opened up and their numbers were/are much worse than ours.
“We will get through this a lot faster if our governor would let its citizens go back to living,” he added. “We are all entitled to our own opinions; you have yours and I have mine.
“To answer your question, I will only wear a mask where it is mandatory (doctor’s office, hospitals etc.),” Worthington said. “I feel that it’s ridiculous to begin wearing a mask now the virus has been here for a few months and we all still had to go to the grocery stores and, yes, without a mask. Seems backwards to me. I think we need to have the majority of the population be exposed to this virus. Once that happens, life can return to normal.”
Like most Mercer Countians, Linda Preston misses normal socialization, but she intends to continue to follow healthy guidelines.
“I agree with the safe practices such as washing hands, keeping our hands away from the face, and wearing masks,” Preston explained. “I wear a mask every trip to Wal-Mart, Kroger, or the Dollar Store. I feel more comfortable wearing a mask and seeing others with masks. I miss going to my church, but if self-distancing and masks protect my friends and me, I will wear a mask. I appreciate how our churches have used social media to allow us to continue to worship.”
“I will continue to wear a mask as I am doing now,” said Earl Patrick Dean. “The reason is that no statement by a person or government entity is the same as a clean bill of health as it regards to the existence or lack of a threat from this virus. The closest we can get to a truly informed decision is to look at the statistics as they stand now, and project the current rate of progress into the future. When we do that, it’s essentially making a guess, albeit an informed one. My personal feeling is to listen to all we have, and maybe give special attention to the recommendation of the CDC. Right now, they seem to think reopening is going too quickly, too soon.”
“Washing and drying your hands is a must. Wearing a mask in public should be done at all times and keeping your hands away from your face. Hand sanitizing is a must. I work in healthcare and wear a mask 12 hours a day,” said Linton, adding she also follows the recommended six feet distancing
. “In public we should wear masks and it does not hurt to wear gloves when shopping and pumping gas.”
Beverly Stratton believes citizens should all be wearing masks when they are in public.
“It may or may not do any real good, but I believe I owe it to my family and everyone I come in contact with to be as safe as I can be. It’s such a small sacrifice on my part to maybe save one precious life.”
A 69-year-old woman who asked to remain unnamed, said that based on what is known about the Covid-19 virus, each individual “should evaluate their own situation and do what they think is best for them.” Considering herself in the at-risk group, she said she would wear a mask in public.
Judith Daulton Agee summed it for most of those who participated in this poll:
“If I go out,” she said, “I’ll wear a mask.”