Today, in preparation of writing this article, I came across a photo from a year ago when universal masking was mandated in Pennsylvania. While we have came far in the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am afraid to say that Universal Masking and Social Distancing will become the fabric of our lives like cotton for some time. One day we will get there, but until the day we are sure that the vaccines are indeed effective and there is a very minimal risk of contracting the ill effects of the virus, then we will be wearing the masks for a while.
This has been a hotbed of discussion locally as a member of an adjoining school district’s board of education first defied the district’s order to universally mask and social distance on district property and then in protest after being mandated to do so, chose to wear a paper bag to the following meeting in protest. This was the laughing stock of not only that district, but the entire region and while it did look hideous, it was about as effective as wearing the mask. I watched some of the board meeting last week when they were planning to meet virtually next month, and the member questioning COIVD cast the dissenting vote to do so, this was in showing her belief that that there is no such virus exists. She has questioned this in the virtual meetings as well in the past, calling the superintendent and board president to the fact of “Why aren’t we all dead?” This puts the students, staff and faculty of that district uncertain of the antics of this one person who has the governance of them all.
My point of the story is when we see stories such as these and we keep wearing the masks, we have to remember where we were at the time the masks were initially mandated. Many public places weren’t open and if they were such as dining facilities only offered take out or drive thru at the most. Sometimes I get discouraged because the lobby to the local McDonalds has been closed for a few months and is now being remodeled again. I just want to think about those such as myself who cannot drive how difficult it can be (if we choose) to utilize the delivery services that is double the price of that if you go in person. When you as an autistic have been experiencing all the changes that this pandemic has brought forth to our sometimes-daily schedules. I too, have grown to realize that like wearing the mask and physically distancing in public is necessary to be a fabric of what life entails these days.
It doesn’t seem like it sometimes, until it all catches up to me all the changes, I have experienced in the past 14 months and the changes that sometimes occur daily and with short notice and how I have been managing better at adapting at quick notice. I think too, with realizing that I need my medication as a foundation for me to function on my own and in society, I realize that while the precautions that I and others must take in order to precent the spread of COVID is necessary but evil.
I definitely get autistics that can not wear a mask in public. A year ago, when I first had to, when wearing it for lengthy amounts of time, I too struggled and sometimes had to pull it below my nose to get fresh air. I remember fat quarters being bought up by so many people at the local supercenter and the struggles finding comfortable elastic and fabric to meet our needs. We’ve learned ways to better serve customers who cannot shop with a mask on although it isn’t perfect it is as much as a healthy compromise as it can be.
To those who think we are doomed in this for life, remember that there will be a day where the fabric will change again and we will get to a point where like polio, smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, etc. we will get to a point where contracting the virus can be assured not to be contracted by being around others. But, for now, we must continue to be safe and be cautious of ourselves and those around us so that if we are well, we can remain well and conquer the fight that will be known as COVID-19.