Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
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Why I am choosing to wear a mask

by Jake Foster, PA-C, Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics

I have a confession to make. I wore a mask in public outside of work for the first time last week, and I felt ridiculous.

As I walked through one of our local grocery stores in Orofino, I noticed that I was one of maybe 2-3 others that had a mask on. I said to myself: "Self, I really don't like this mask. It itches. My incessant mouth breathing fogs up my sunglasses and moistens my nose. I don't like breathing my own breath. And I had to shave my beard to keep from shredding my mask at work, and I'm still upset about that. I just want to take this thing off. After all, hardly anyone else is wearing a mask anyway!"

As I reached up to shamelessly tear the mask off, I stopped dead in my tracks and remembered that there was a reason I put this itchy thing on in the first place. I'll get to that in a second. But first, I want to tell you about a promise I made myself a few years back. That is that I want to base my beliefs and subsequent actions on good reasoning. If I believe in something, I want to be able to demonstrate that I have a good reason to do so. Which brings me back to mask wearing: there is universal consensus among professional medical organizations that mask wearing can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sure, this hasn't been the case since the beginning of the known pandemic. But that's the great thing about human understanding. It changes and improves over time as we study and learn things. As new understanding occurs, doesn't it make sense that recommendations should change? Well, that's where we are with mask wearing. To the best of our knowledge, it can help to slow the spread of COVID -19.

I can't help but be a little bit concerned by the numbers of new cases we are seeing in Idaho over the past couple of weeks. Go check out coronavirus.idaho.gov, and you'll see we keep setting daily records for new cases in our state. That day in the grocery store I recommitted myself to behaving in a way that I knew was based on solid reasoning. I dropped my hand away from my face, stiffened my upper lip, and proceeded to purchase my choice of assorted meats and vegetables (it is grilling season you know) and cold beverages while wearing my itchy mask.

So, friends, if you see me in town with my smiling face uncovered by a mask, kindly remind me that there's actually a good reason to go ahead and put the mask back on.

Photo: Jake Foster, Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140