Daley: Why I wear my mask

I wear my mask because I want to wear it.

Yes, the science says even cloth masks reduce the spread of droplets in which COVID-19 can spread. Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and public health experts across the globe support mask-wearing as one of the most basic and helpful ways to mitigate the spread of this coronavirus.

But, when it comes down to it, I wear my mask because I want to wear it.

I wear my mask because I want to reduce my chances of being a participant in the spread of COVID-19. That’s also why I’ve mostly been working from home throughout this pandemic, a decision I have not taken lightly.

Would I rather be spending legislative days at the State Capitol in Harrisburg? Of course, I would. But the State Capitol hasn’t been the safest place when it comes to avoiding the coronavirus.

So, for myself, my family and my colleagues, I work from home as much as possible and always wear my mask when I’m around other people because I don’t want to participate in the spread of COVID-19.

I wear my mask because I don’t want to get COVID-19.

While most who become infected might have manageable symptoms or even be asymptomatic, these are not dice I want to roll. I have known far too many who struggled mightily – and many who continue to struggle – with some of the worst this disease has to offer. But at least even those people are still here to fight.

More than 309,000 have died across this country. More than 13,500 have died in Pennsylvania. More than 950 have died here in Montgomery County

None of us wants to be among those statistics. So, I wear my mask because I don’t want to get COVID-19.

I wear my mask because it’s a relatively easy thing to do.

Continually, I strive to understand how such an action became so politicized, how wearing a mask during a worldwide pandemic became so polarizing.

Understandably, mask-wearing can be a slight inconvenience. Glasses fog up. Smiles and expressions are hidden by masks of friends and strangers in my community. And, yes, masks are a constant reminder that our world is vastly different today than it was at this time last year, and I want to return to the relative normalcy of pre-pandemic life.

But, until our healthcare workers and hospitals are able to return to pre-pandemic admissions standards, and until enough people have received the vaccine that we no longer have to worry about spreading this highly contagious disease, the goal is to give our healthcare industry the best chance to combat the disease.

So, like giving a stranger a friendly nod, holding the door for somebody behind you, or saying “Bless you!” in response to a nearby sneeze, I wear my mask because it’s an easy thing to do.

Lastly, I wear my mask because I am proudly expressing myself.

I am tired of feeling angry and disappointed about the “debate” of wearing masks. When somebody breaks a bone, they sometimes must wear a cast. It’s a temporary but necessary solution with a goal of improved health.

As an observer, I’ve always appreciated when people have decorated their casts in a form of self-expression. And that’s how I’ve come to think of my masks.

How do I want to express myself today? Do I want to support somebody or something? Should my mask match my outfit? How can I have fun with this?

These might seem like relatively inconsequential questions, but I take them seriously enough. I wear my mask because I’m proudly expressing myself.

And, with nearly 10 months of reading and talking about COVID-19, there are positive signs. Most of us are tired of the cabin fever, isolation, loneliness and uncertainty that has been haunting our lives. It has been a very difficult and uncertain time.

I just am not interested in sacrificing the time I have put in staying masked, socially distant and with very clean hands to COVID-19. I am sticking with the public health experts because, as they see it, the best that can happen is we all commit to wearing our masks, we get COVID-19 under control and, combined with vaccinations, we return to relative normalcy once again.

Let’s see if it works!