Wearing a Mask is Not Too Much to Ask

If all of us do these relatively small things, my sister might begin to experience a few small pleasures before summer vanishes.

By Kristi Niemeyer

The past five months have been a little rough on my sister, who’s sequestered at St. Joseph Assisted Living in Polson. Sure, she receives three meals a day, and lots of love and care from the staff. But those ingredients that help make life worth living – independence, affection, outings with family and friends – are out of reach until the pandemic loosens its grip on Montana.

Before the recent surge in cases, I could at least deliver her to and from appointments, chat with her through an open window instead of over the phone, and once, savor root-beer floats while sitting 10 feet away from each other in the foyer. Those small connections that meant so much have disappeared as Lake County’s COVID-19 count rose from four to over 165 by the end of July. I can’t go in, and she can’t come out. It’s incarceration with the best of intentions – to save our elders from a ruthless virus.

So perhaps you’ll understand my impatience with those who see the governor’s mandate to wear face coverings in indoor public places as a violation of their constitutional rights (there are exemptions for those with medical conditions, by the way).

I don’t enjoy wearing a mask – makes my glasses fog up and can get a little sweaty in this heat. But I dutifully put one on before I head into the store, buy gas or get my haircut. And I’m grateful to every single employee and customer who also wears one. If all of us do these relatively small things – put on a face covering, keep our distance, avoid crowds – my sister might begin to experience a few small pleasures before summer vanishes. The feel of cool grass beneath her feet, dipping her toes in Flathead Lake, a huckleberry shake from Burgerville.

And maybe, if we all do our part, kids can safely return to school, small businesses can begin to recover, and the medical professionals who work so hard to keep us well can relax a little. It’s not too much to ask.

Kristi Niemeyer

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