LOOK, RIGHT NOW just about everybody is sick, or getting over being sick, or trying not to get sick. The maps and graphs are terrible. The germs are everywhere. So put on a mask, already!
For real! Put on a mask!
Even the Centers for Disease Control is very tentatively and halfheartedly suggesting that maybe it’s time for people to start thinking about trying masks again, if they want to, after spending the past year and a half pretending masks didn’t make a difference, even on airplanes and in other crowded public settings, because the federal government’s infectious disease experts calculated that Joe Biden’s approval ratings depended on eliminating any visible reminders of the uncontrolled pandemic. But now the midterms are over and the germs are flying around even more wildly than they already were. If you’ve built your identity around not caring about Covid, great news: the good old influenza is on the rampage. Get a flu shot, if you haven’t. But also: Get a mask! Put it on!
For instance: if you are on the downtown 1 train, and the trains are packed full, because brake problems elsewhere have set off a cascade of delays—mechanical brake problems, this time, although also lately our collective descent into the berserk has included somebody or multiple somebodies running around pulling the train brakes—and even more people have just packed onto the train, after being harangued on the platform by a man in a bow tie about how Jesus is coming back and every white man will get a motorcycle—if you are on this train, and you happen to have a deep, ripping chest cough, so that every two stops or so you burst into a coughing fit where people can hear wet things being torn loose in your airway—you, specifically, should be wearing a mask.
Really you should never have gotten on the train at all, but here everyone is, aren’t they.
Not only would a mask catch at least some of whatever is loudly flying out of your mouth, it would also spare everyone, when they look over in startlement at the sound, from having to see you give your boyfriend a simpering little smile, between the two of you, as if you just maybe forgot to turn off your ringer at the symphony, or knocked a fork off a table to clatter on the floor. Aw! Aren’t I the klutziest!
Or but more importantly—at least, more controllably—if you are not that person, well, that person is out there, hacking and simpering away, and so is everyone they coughed on. What are you gonna do about it? Wear a mask.
Might as well wash your hands, too.
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