Number one, continue wearing the damned masks. I have eight of them now. They match most of my clothing, and therefore keep the fashionista in me happy. My mother taught me to coordinate, and I’d like to think this would make her happy. Of course she would hate the fact that masks cover half the face. She always told me and my sisters we needed more lipstick. That’s why one of my masks has a huge red lip print where my mouth is.
Like condoms, masks don’t work unless you leave them on.
Second, there's a vaccine on its way to us. While we wait for it is a good time to double down on being careful. In the last two months four of my friends and my niece have tested positive, and one of them went to the hospital for a week. He's home on oxygen now. The others are still fatigued weeks later, and two lost their sense of taste and smell. Why risk getting it now, with the vaccine predicted to be available to the general public by March.
Third if i’m going to hang out with you, I’m going to need to know you tested negative, too. Or you need to be one of my "pod." And yes, I know one test doesn’t guarantee that either of us won’t get it later. That’s why I’ll continue to wear my masks, and ask you to wear yours, six feet away.
Believing that someone has tested negative, and/or has been extremely careful about exposure, is very much like vetting a new sex partner. We can choose to believe they are STD free, but still choose to wear or have them wear a condom. We can believe them and choose not to use a condom and take our chances, or we can ask to see the tests.
To extend the analogy of STDs and COVID, I know where and with whom I’ve been, but I don’t know where and with whom you’ve been. So I need you to wear protection.
Unfortunately, there are no condoms for COVID, unless you count masks.Which I do. Masks are very similar to condoms, in that they make it safer for me to be close to you. As in anything less than six feet away. Notice I didn’t say completely safe, just safer. And since masks can be worn by both parties, in that respect they are safer than condoms. Especially since they don’t break mid-conversation. Although, like condoms, they don’t work unless you leave them on.
Since masks are the closest thing to a condom in this analogy, I believe we should all wear masks when in public, or too close to anyone we don’t live with. Which leads to number four.
Fourth, I’m not going to be living with anyone again until there’s a vaccine. During the first three months of COVID, I had a roommate. He tested positive last July. See above paragraphs about not knowing where someone else has been and with whom. He developed symptoms a day after I left town with my COVID buddy, a retired nurse who had been as careful as I thought I was being. And that I thought the roommate was being, until he got it and I was exposed.
Full disclosure: I had decided he needed to move out before he tested positive. A supposedly temporary stay that lasted too long was the reason. The way he handled being infected sealed the deal.
However, If my son, who just moved to L.A., needed to come home, of course I would take him in. That’s a given.
Fifth, I had taken chances before testing negative that I don’t plan to repeat. Being aroud my son and his friends being the biggest chance I took.
My son has been diligent about staying away so as not to expose me. We got together on Mother’s Day, over six feet apart. When he came by to say goodbye in July before moving to L.A., along with a couple of his friends who are like my children, we all wore masks, and stayed six feet apart. At least until I insisted we hug, masks on. I’m not superhuman. I’m a Mom.
However, after they left my place, I discovered one of his friends had left a phone. I agreed to meet them on a local restautant patio to return it. When I arrived, there were fifteen of them, and only two wore masks. He’s a very popular guy.
I stayed for a little over an hour. We were outside, but not socially distanced. I later was informed that two of them had previously tested positive, but had recovered. While I was there, my feelings ranged from anxious, to sad, to joy that he was so admired. Talk about having mixed feelings with your mixed drinks.
I finally got in for a test a week or so after the farewell party. It took two and a half weeks to get the results.
The negative test resutlt wasn’t a big surprise, since I didn’t have symptoms. It was, however, a relief.
The negative test, of course, also raises the question of why me. A person in a high risk category. Definitely exposed. Someone not as careful as they should have been.
Some people might see a negative test as a reason to start living life as the old normal. Maybe they would give up the masks, start going everywhere, meet new people unafraid. Not me. And I hope you won’t either. I also hope you won't do that immediately after getting the vaccine. You will be immune, but you can still be a carrier.
There is too much about this virus that we don’t yet understand. Soon, I hope, after the immediate crisis, resources can be devoted to studying those who should have gotten it, but didn’t. Maybe there’s some secret we can discover to help others fight off the virus, or even to improve the vaccine.
Until then, when you see me, if you see me, I’ll be the one in the fashionable, or avant garde masks. I’ll be distancing by at least six feet If I don’t know you. If we flirt over our masks with our eyes, I can AirDrop you my tests results. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.