Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record.

Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record.

Commen-Terry: Why wearing a mask makes sense to me

What do you have to lose?

My name is Terry, and I wear a mask.

It sounds like some sort of 12-step program introduction, but there are really only two steps.

Get a mask. Wear it.

No, it is not mandatory – yet – but here in B.C., we like to boast about being “ahead of the curve” when it comes to all things COVID-19 related. With that in mind, why are there so few of us wearing masks when visiting indoor public spaces?

RELATED: Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three: B.C.’s top doc

Let’s first look at why I wear one.

The short answer is, because I don’t want COVID-19, and if I have it, I don’t want to be responsible for you getting it.

The science is simple. Wearing a mask reduces the number of droplets, produced by coughing, or sneezing (or yes, even yawning).

Without any kind of mask or shield, such fluid emitted during a cough or sneeze can travel up to 12 feet. Put on a mask, and that distance is reduced to as little as two inches.

Two people facing each other, both wearing masks, are extremely unlikely to transmit anything other than eye contact.

Considering a certain portion of COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic, although I feel perfectly healthy, I actually do not know if I have the disease. So I wear a mask, in case I am one of those asymptomatic carriers.

Yes, it’s a slight inconvenience. But it’s one I am willing to take, to keep you safe.

Is wearing a mask an infringement on our rights? Possibly, but in a state of emergency, a government is allowed to use “extraordinary powers.” In other words, the provincial state of emergency overrides our right to freedom of expression, or whichever right one thinks masks infringe upon, should a mask policy be mandated.

I’ve heard the argument from conspiracy theorists that masks are actually unhealthy, and can lead to a decrease in oxygen intake, or they can put immune systems under an inordinate amount of stress.

Surgeons wear masks for hours at a time. Every day. For up to 40 years. Dentists, and dental hygienists, have to wear them for work every day. I’m fairly certain that if wearing a mask has such adverse effects, we’d know it by now.

Certainly, there are some medical conditions that make mask-wearing adversarial. One that comes to mind is autism. Some people on the spectrum might not be able to tolerate wearing a mask, due to sensory issues.

There is also a solid argument that certain pulmonary conditions can be exacerbated by wearing a mask. My guess is that most people who have such afflictions are already avoiding crowds, as catching COVID-19 is especially dangerous for anyone with underlying lung issues.

And Asthma Canada president/CEO Vanessa Foran has said wearing a mask could create risk of an asthma attack.

So yes, there are legitimate reasons to avoid wearing a mask.

But if you want real proof masks work, we need to look no further than Japan – a country renowned for its mask use, and for long before COVID-19 came along.

RELATED: Younger Canadians, men less likely to wear masks, according to Stats Canada

The Japanese have been wearing masks for years.

According to worldometers.info, the population of Japan is 126,462,125. That’s more than three times the population of Canada, in a country roughly one third the size of British Columbia.

There have been 982 COVID-19 deaths recorded in Japan. Canada has nine times that many deaths.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but it has me convinced.

I am fortunate enough not to have a medical condition that would prevent me from wearing a mask. If you are as fortunate, please consider doing the same.

And if you already do wear a mask, thank you.

Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

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