Dear Barb—Masking the Danger

Dear Barb:

My 80-year-old grandmother is in the hospital with covid-19, she was on a ventilator for almost two weeks and is now recovering.  No one in the family has been able to visit her.  We are all heartbroken that she would have to suffer like this.  She has always been a loving caring grandmother and mother.  We don’t know how or where she contracted the virus.  She always wore a mask, but at that time when she would have contracted the virus not a lot of people were wearing masks.  I wonder if my grandmother could have been spared this experience if wearing a mask was mandatory at that time. 

I am writing because I have been reading a lot on social media about people who do not want to wear a mask.  They feel wearing a mask is infringing on their freedoms and rights, plus they are questioning the benefits and risks of wearing a mask.  I feel that since we are not experts, and this is not something we have experienced before, that we should listen to the experts.  I know they are not 100% sure of all the facts, but I’m willing to bet they know a lot more than I do.  I just don’t understand why people are so angry about wearing a mask.  Are they so selfish that they don’t care about the possibility of spreading this deadly virus to others?  Thanks, Jane.

Hi Jane:

I don’t think people are selfish, they are just confused.  The advice seems to change from week to week and medical experts do not always agree on what is the right thing to do, especially about masks.  Earlier in the pandemic Canada’s Chief Medical Officer said that wearing non medical masks was not necessary, but by early April this advice had changed.  It was then discovered that wearing face masks may prevent the spread of the virus to others.  Therefore the main purpose in wearing as mask was to protect others, rather than just preventing you from contracting the virus.  Many people were of the belief that if they kept a distance from others it was not necessary for them to wear a mask.  This protocol has evolved and presently wearing or not wearing of masks is different from province to province and city to city.  Some cities are making wearing of masks mandatory, while others are leaving the choice to the individual or the business.   Wearing a mask will most likely not provide 100% protection from contracting covid, but they do offer some protection, along with washing your hands regularly and maintaining physical distance.  Personally I am with you, some protection is definitely better than no protection.  Whether mandatory or not, it’s a good idea to wear a mask when out in public places.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

[A Best of 2020 wouldn’t be complete without a Dear Barb.  This one was chosen from our July 31 issue in part because of how relevant it remains, especially as we learn about new strains which may be vaccine resistant and watch how the disease continues to ravage the United States.  That makes it part of the Best of 2020.  Let’s hope it’s not part of the Best of 2021 too.]