Make a difference by wearing a mask

BY DENNIS STREETS, Guest Columnist
Posted 7/17/20

“All must mask.”

Those were the words of an intensive care medical doctor at a large hospital in Florida. I was struck by the simplicity and profoundness of his words. They just made common …

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Make a difference by wearing a mask

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“All must mask.”

Those were the words of an intensive care medical doctor at a large hospital in Florida. I was struck by the simplicity and profoundness of his words. They just made common sense.

What was most compelling was the source. This physician leads an ICU team that is helping many people of all ages who have become infected with COVID-19.

This physician’s realization of the importance of masks, though, came more from his personal experience. He admitted to an error in judgment that led him and his family to become infected. In his interview, the doctor talked about having a large family gathering at which a cousin who was an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier brought this horrid disease to his home.

While the doctor reported that he had recovered and was eager to return to work — and thankful that his wife and children only had mild cases — he sadly shared that his mother and grandmother had driven themselves to the hospital after becoming sick. Only one returned home.

This frontline hero now has to live with the loss of a loved one, which may have been prevented.

He pointed out that our oldest and most vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members were frontline heroes when the United State battled other adversaries in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and other challenging times. In their youth, many of these generations made the ultimate sacrifice. Health officials tell us that this population, specifically those 65 and older, are more likely to have severe complications from COVID-19.

The doctor’s point was this: Is it too much of a sacrifice for people of all ages to take simple, reasonable measures to protect one another as we seek to control the spread of COVID-19 and overcome its effect on our community’s health and economy?

The wearing of a mask and keeping a safe distance from others are two of the most patriotic acts that any of us can undertake at this time. How well we do in these acts of patriotism will largely dictate our success in protecting our fellow residents. When future historians consider this time period, hopefully they will report that Chatham County made a positive difference, because we all acted responsibly in following this physician’s simple prescription.

Dennis Streets is the executive director of the Chatham County Council on Aging. He can be reached at 919-542-4512 or by email at


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