October 2023


Masks are back in the news. A few Islanders have written to us with their thoughts. We always welcome your input. Send to editor@vashonloop.com.

Masks and Children

By a Vashon Mother

There are countless studies proving that mask-wearing provides little if any of the protection the media and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have led people to believe (or it’s straight-up inconclusive), but as a mother of two young children, I would like to address this topic as it pertains to them.

My children were toddlers in the spring of 2020; we were newer to the Island and hoping to make friends. No matter where you land on the COVID-19 topic, I think we can all agree that what began that year was especially traumatic for the youngest and most rapidly developing little minds in our community.

To not see faces or clearly hear voices is quite scary for children, and “smiling with your eyes” while wearing a mask does nothing to comfort them. Identifying faces and recognizing their expressions contributes greatly to a child’s neural development, social awareness, emotional growth, and their ability to assess their surroundings. It is biologically part of the way we evolve. There is no substitute for learning these skills, nor is there another way to allow the brain to develop in those areas.

Over the last three-and-a-half years, we have created a recipe for much emotional and psychological trauma. We have only just started to witness its effects in these children, and this will likely continue to unravel in untold ways throughout their lifetimes. Now, consider that these very same children will be running the world and making more and more decisions for us as we age, and it becomes a rather scary situation for us, too.

Back to the Basics

By the Polite Masker

While listening to the car radio and waiting for a late North End ferry on the morning of September 14th, I heard an ad for Vicks Vapo-rub. It featured a girl coughing and sniffling and said that with cold and flu season coming right up, it was time to think about applying some Vicks to keep those nasal passages clear.

As the commercial was finishing up, the thought arose, “That’s the first thing I’ve heard about colds in a long time.” Then, about an hour later on the ferry another version of the Vapo-Rub ad played, again with coughing and sniffling. Nothing about shots. Nothing about masks. I listen to commercial radio and drive as part of work, so have easily heard over 10,000 announcements cross the airwaves on masks and shots during the past 3-plus years.

I haven’t heard them again, but the Vicks commercials were a turning point for me. To be considerate to family and friends, I’ve worn masks whenever and wherever asked. I’ve even worn them outside. But I’ve known the whole time they’re useless at stopping the flu, and nothing short of a gas mask will stop a virus. If they did the job, then why did we have non-stop COVID spread? As is said, if you can smell it, you can catch it.

It’s time to face my family and friends normally, with a smile. Except for a costume fund-raiser or Halloween parade, I won’t be wearing another mask. If one is offered, I’ll reply with a polite, “No thank you,” and proceed. If I get the cold or flu, I’ll just take time off and break out the cans of chicken soup that are getting near their expiration date.

Mask Mandates Raise Significant Concerns

By a Vashon Community Member

Mask mandates, while well-intentioned, raise significant concerns that cannot be ignored. Advocating for individual choice, “my body my choice,” as well as personal liberty, I firmly oppose mask mandates for several reasons.

First and foremost, mask mandates infringe upon our fundamental rights and freedoms. In a free democratic society, individuals should have the autonomy to make choices about their own health. Requiring masks under the threat of legal action, fines, or denial of essential services strips citizens of basic as well as constitutional freedoms, and sets a dangerous precedent for government overreach and control.

Furthermore, the efficacy of mask mandates remains contentious. The scientific community itself has provided mixed and evolving guidance on the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses. Studies have proven that extended wearing of masks can create significant harm. By imposing mandates, governments promote a false sense of security and divert resources from more effective public health measures.

Mask mandates also disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. People with certain medical conditions or disabilities may be unable to wear masks safely, and mandates can lead to discrimination and exclusion. Additionally, lower-income individuals may face greater barriers to acquiring masks or may be more heavily impacted by fines, exacerbating existing inequalities.

The unintended consequences of mask mandates should not be underestimated. They can foster division and resentment among communities, with some individuals feeling unfairly singled out or punished for personal choices. This divisive atmosphere is counterproductive to fostering cooperation and unity.

Rather than relying on mandates, I believe in promoting education and encouraging responsible behavior. Providing accurate information about the risks of COVID-19 and what we know about the benefits of mask-wearing can empower individuals to make informed decisions. Moreover, emphasizing the importance of other preventative measures, such as hand hygiene and social distancing, can also be effective in curbing the spread of the virus.

October 11, 2023

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loopeditor Writings and other postings by the Vashon Loop Editors