On Thursday, I went to a couple of retail outlets and to the public library. In all of these places, I observed that most, not all, of the customers and patrons were once again wearing face masks. Some of these masks — including mine — were somewhat crumpled as if they had been relegated, but had not quite made it, to the trash bin.

What causes all this mask-wearing is that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued what some consider to be a confusing bit of news. It is suspected that it is mostly those opposed to any edict from the dammed “gummint” who are professing confusion.

Actually, what the CDC is recommending — not mandating — is simple and straightforward: those who live in areas with a high rate of COVID-19 infections should wear a mask. Since we are deep in the heart of the most heavily-infected area in the USA, the CDC has color-coded our state as one of the areas where people should wear a mask, and we have complied.

But, we are not alone. About half of the country and perhaps a bit more is colored in red, which means that those places have a high rate of infection, from Tennessee to California, and mask-wearing is advised.

While our friends in southwest Missouri, from Jasper County to Greene County, cause Missouri to have the highest rate of any state, St. Louis and Kansas City also have high rates.

Boone County is not much of an exception. According to the data published daily in this newspaper, we range from a low of 55 new cases per day to a high of 172. (As this is written July 30, the number of new cases is reported as 130.)

We are not yet at the point where COVID-19 cases are being sent to hospitals elsewhere, such as is the status in Springfield and Lake of the Ozarks; the hospitals in our town are experiencing growing rates and it may be that soon the ICUs are overwhelmed.

While I am doubly immune, a survivor of COVID-19 and having received the Moderna vaccination, still today I wear a mask. It could be that I am a carrier and may be unknowingly infecting others who are not protected.

It is telling that about 97% of those in the ICUs at the two hospitals, Mercy and CoxHealth, in Springfield are unvaccinated, according to the CEOs of those institutions. That percentage holds true for most of the country.

By wearing a mask, I am protecting not only the vaccinated but also the unvaccinated. This is “a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” as Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC puts it.

A lot of those unvaccinated folks subscribe to the misinformation found on anti-social networks.

Among that misinformation is a lot of warning about what the vaccine contains and what it will do to a person receiving the shot: autism, messing up DNA, use of fetus material, insertion of a microchip and so forth. All of these assertions are based on nothing. As I have stated before, these are lies.

Apparently those opposed to COVID-19 vaccines have chosen to believe the misinformation outcomes and, unwittingly, have chosen to acquire COVID-19. I choose to believe science and medicine rather than falsehoods, so, if I were not already vaccinated, I would get vaccinated.

As stated above, I have had COVID-19 and have scars on my right arm where a vascular surgeon was trying to find a path around a blood clot, and pneumonia scars on my lungs. While I have more or less returned to normal now, it was a struggle and only after four months of daily workouts.

For the sake of preventing others from having this experience, wear a mask.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

Ken Midkiff, formerly the director of the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign, is now chair of the city’s Environment and Energy Commission and serves on the board of directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.

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