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Wearing a mask to protect your friends, your family simply makes sense

The subject is masks.

I know my colleagues and other columnists have written extensively about masks, so I guess one more treatise on the subject won’t make much difference.

Let’s face it. Masks are a pain.

With my allergies and nasal problems, I have severe difficulties breathing with my mask on and it fogs up my glasses. I can’t wait until I get in my truck or get home or back at my desk to take the thing off and feel that wonderful cool air hit my face. By the way, our desks in the newsroom are social-distanced.

Now we’re being ordered to wear them. How dare our state and local governments make us wear something like that around our faces; it’s a violation of our rights!

Yeah, right.

OK now, let’s look at this situation. The government is required to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people it serves. And while I haven’t delved into the statutes with any depth, I’m sure there is a law saying officials can require people to take certain precautions — like wearing a facemask — to prevent or reduce the spread of disease.

Now about rights. Let’s go back to World War II when things like gasoline, meat and sugar were rationed and travel was restricted (“Is this trip necessary?”). There were blackout restrictions with Civil Defense wardens knocking on doors in the middle of the night to make sure people had their curtains closed. Access to beaches in some areas was restricted or prohibited.

Were there complaints? Yes. Did people violate the restrictions? Yes, but the majority of the population complied because it was the best thing for the country.

Even today we routinely obey regulations that affect our freedom like wearing seatbelts, speed zones, dress codes to enter businesses and workplace safety regulations.

Someone may claim they have the right to go without a mask, but they do not have the right to infect my family or me with a disease, whether it’s COVID-19, the measles or Ebola.

The often-quoted statement that “with rights come responsibilities” is quite true, like the example attributed to former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. that freedom of speech does not allow a person to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

We have a responsibility to our community to keep it safe and medical experts say the masks work.

Any doubts? Ask people who refused to wear a mask and caught COVID-19. Ask the legislators who either didn’t or rarely wore masks during the recent session of the Legislature and contracted the disease.

Because of our lack of available tests to test people who show no symptoms of COVID-19, there are people with the disease who don’t show the symptoms, walk around in enclosed areas without a mask and do not keep the 6-foot interval. That is gambling with one’s health.

It makes sense to wear masks and protect yourself and your family. To do otherwise is foolish.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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