Readers Write: The case for wearing a mask

The Island Now

Time always bears out whose opinions are more valid than others.  However, science and the scientific method, if applied accurately and consistently, leave no room for opinion.        An opinionated theory is no longer an opinionated theory if it can be proven over and over with acceptable, minimal, statistical variation.  This is the case with using masks in a pandemic.

During the pandemic that swept the globe over 100 years ago, it is estimated that perhaps 50 million people were lost to that virus.

Some areas of the United States historically enforced mask-wearing more than others and reportedly had lower death rates.  However, not having a time machine to travel backward in time and do empirical research to verify such information, I can only speak from my own, recent empirical experiences.

Having been a teacher of secondary school biology for many years, in addition to spending many years as a secondary school administrator, it is in my nature to viewlife using real facts, not opinions.

Many times my own life experiences have taught me significant life lessons.  One such experience involved a family member being diagnosed with one of the basic coronaviruses that have floated on Earth for decades…before COVID-19 (the current novel coronavirus) hit the scene.

When my family member was diagnosed with a basic coronavirus back in early 201           for which she was hospitalized for almost three weeks, I spent many days by her side in the hospital.

As a four-time cancer warrior over the past 11 years (continuing my battle against blood cancer, including numerous organ removals, weeks of radiation treatments, and years of chemotherapy), I am a high-risk person for dying if I contact any respiratory illness.  My body’s immune system is significantly compromised.

Yet, I was at my relative’s side in her multi-week stay in a local hospital for almost three  weeks and I remained free of the basic coronavirus that she was battling in early 2019.

Why did I remain free of my relative’s basic coronavirus?  My answer:  I wore a mask.

Back on March 17, 2020, a few days before New York’s formal lockdown, I wrote the following letter to both President Trump and to Gov. Cuomo, via their respective internet websites:

Coronavirus Protection Potential: Last year, when my (relative) had a basic CORONAVIRUS & she was hospitalized … I wore a … mask…I am seriously immuno-compromised.  Yet, even though I sat next to my (relative) for almost 3 full weeks, I did not contract the virus. I believe it was because I wore the aforementioned mask…We need to protect everyone from the spread of COVID19.  I hope that my own personal experience with the…mask has the potential to do good for everyone.   I taught BIOLOGY in NYS public secondary schools for many years and found this observation of my own personal experience very significant.”.”

I believe I was a “live experiment” using a mask while sitting for many days in                     an isolated hospital area for patients with both serious viral and/or bacterial infections.       My experience may save others’ lives from this serious scourge of COVID-19.

Is wearing a mask foolproof protection against getting COVID-19? Certainly not.

Careful handling of a mask to be worn is important, along with frequent handwashing and disinfecting hands being essential as well.

Only in recent days has the CDC formally recognized what I knew since early 2019…wearing a mask gives significant protection for the wearer against becoming infected with a virus, a virus whose only mission is to ravage a body.

Please, please, please wear a mask as if your life depends upon it because my personal experience makes me believe it does.

Kathy Rittel

East Williston







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