Dear people living in America during this pandemic,

Wear a motherfucking mask.

I am tired of seeing your Snapchat stories where you’re at bar or hosting “beer Olympics” with a group of many friends, but not wearing a mask or maintaining social distance. I’m sick of seeing social media pictures of you with a large group of friends, partying and celebrating, but not wearing a goddamn mask or social distancing. Then, you have the audacity to post articles and memes about the “other side of the aisle” not wearing masks and how our COVID-19 stats are increasing.

I don’t care if you want to go out and won’t let the pandemic stop you from celebrating life. Great, but wear a mask. You’re not invincible. You could die from COVID-19. Or, you could give it to someone who could die from it. Getting tested is horribly intrusive. It’s 10 seconds of hell. And, waiting for the results is even worse. Then, if you have it, who knows what your symptoms will be. It’s such an unpredictable virus that we all must be careful. Also, not everyone can afford to get tested if they have no health insurance. (So many reasons to wear a mask!!)

Why aren’t you wearing a mask? Are you scared? Is it easier to live in denial? Worried about getting an awful mask tan? Or, more importantly, are you worried you won’t get a lot of likes on your Instagram posts?

Mask wearing while getting tacos.

From running groups to family reunions in the park, people choose not to wear masks. Or, better yet, keep their masks lowered while interacting with people closely. I’ve heard people encourage others to violate the mandatory mask laws because they can’t hear the other person. They’ll stand closer than 6 feet and act as if there is no coronavirus.

Recently, I had people come work in my home. But, I didn’t let them work unless they wore a mask. Even though we could maintain distance, I still encouraged it. I wear my mask when I walk my dogs, go to the store, or go through any drive-thru window. It’s not solely about my safety. My actions in this pandemic can have detrimental effects on someone else’s life.

One day, I had a terrible back-ache. Body ache can be a symptom of COVID-19, so I reached out to my physician mother and asked if I should get tested. She said it sounded like a classic back ache but, if my symptoms continued, then get tested. My symptoms went away fairly quickly. However, I still had this nagging feeling that I should get tested. As I spoke with some people over FaceTime, one person (who I didn’t know that well) stated, “you should go tested because you don’t want to spread around.” And, that one comment pierced me.

My favorite work mask. Got it at brunchisyum.com

Me – the girl who hardly takes off her mask, keeps more than 6 feet away from people, and won’t even let people pet her dogs – was being accused of spreading COVID-19. Soon after, I got tested and waited 24 hours in social isolation until I got my result: negative. It was relief to not only be told I didn’t have it, but also I didn’t spread it. When I spoke to the doctors about my practices, they told me to keep up. They encouraged my precautions!

My mom is a doctor on the front-lines of COVID-19. My childhood best friend is an ER Nurse administering COVID-19 tests. My cousin is doing COVID-19 research. For these reasons and more, I don’t take this pandemic lightly. We are all trying our best here, but we have to be more mindful. Yes, our needs are important. I am not saying don’t see your friends, don’t drink with your friends, don’t go on vacation with your friends, or don’t host your bachelorette party with your friends. All I am asking is for mindfulness. I’ve seen many people get married with their weddings showing people wearing masks and practicing social distancing. If they can adjust, so can we.

Truth: we don’t know when we will have a vaccine, can stop working remotely, or even roam mask free. But, the more we loosen our precautions, then the further back we get from achieving those goals.

Mask wearing in public. Didn’t even take it off for the photo. Picture from Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative.

We need show each other that we are practicing mindfulness. That we care about other people’s safety. That we understand that wearing mask means fighting for a collective need or community need, which, in turn, will fulfill all of our self-interests. If our leadership can’t reflect that, then we must step up. We must inspire others to take precautions; to make wearing a mask trendy; and to show we care about each other.

I encourage you to find a reason to a wear mask. Make that reason your mantra and use it to follow the mandatory mask laws. My mantra is to protect others because the ones I love are risking it all to make sure people are healthy.

That’s all the lecturing for now. Please be safe.

Published by Nikita Srivastava

a passionate feminist and social justice warrior who occasionally calls herself a goddess. She received her JD in 2019 and became licensed to practice law in 2020.

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