People with and without masks at Logan Airport

For a smart state, too many Mass residents are stupid when it comes to public health

My wife and I were just out for a walk in Cambridge. Home of Harvard and MIT and lots of supposedly intelligent denizens. Yet maybe 6 in 7 people we saw on the street still aren’t covering their faces—with masks, bandanas, or scarves—when outside of their homes. With every medical expert and most political leaders now saying (though not doing in President Trump’s case) that it’s absolutely necessary that they do so to protect themselves, protect others, and slow the spread of coronavirus.

Even getting outside our apartment has become an ordeal. Because people continue moving about the hallways and common areas without covering their faces. And those 7 or 8 steps to the front entrance of our building seem like miles in the face of a contagion that is known to hang around in the air for up to three hours—remaining active for at least an hour—in enclosed spaces.

So each time we have to leave our place for any reason—unless it’s very late at night—we’re forced to make note of each person that passes by and then wait. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty. “OK is that long enough? Was the person coughing or sneezing? Was there more than one person? Were they talking? Fuck it, let’s go.” And then one or both of us rush out to do whatever. Wearing masks and windbreakers with hoods. Then coming back and spraying everything with Fantastik and leaving outside garments to dry on hooks. And taking showers.

Most of our fellow buildingmates remain clueless. Not only do they saunter around our complex like they’re outdoors at an empty park, but they bring their kids out too to run around in our corridors. And one of two neighbors we saw wearing a mask today didn’t provide one for his toddler. Completely defeating the point of his wearing one.

Don’t people understand their kids are human and every bit as capable as adults of getting coronavirus and spreading it around? Whether they show symptoms or not?

As NPR reported on April 3, “It appears that many people who are infected are shedding the virus—through coughs, sneezes, and respiratory droplets—for 48 hours before they start feeling sick. And others who have the virus—up to 25%, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield—may never feel symptoms, but may still play a role in transmitting it. That’s why wearing a mask even if you don’t feel sick can be a good idea.”

The takeaway here being: Cover your faces, Massholes! Do it yourselves and spread the word to everyone you know. It’s not safe to walk around without some kind of mask—indoors or even outdoors when lots of people are walking, running, and biking around. Those last two groups being among the worst offenders in not only failing to cover their faces, but failing to do so while exerting themselves and breathing heavily. Expelling air harder, faster, and farther as they go.

One of the biggest reasons to wear masks is to stop your potentially infected breaths from hanging around in the air as you move down the street. Another big reason is to protect yourself to some degree from breathing any virus that may be floating in your path. Thus, whether you’re a selfless human being or a person who doesn’t care about anyone else, there are good reasons to wear some kind of mask.

So just do it!

Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.