Editor’s note: Catherine Pearlman is a clinical social worker, associate professor at Brandman University and the author of Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction.
Go for a walk, visit any open establishment or public space, and you will note a disconcerting phenomenon: People without masks.
There is a pandemic. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead because of Covid-19, a disease that spreads in droplets that are expelled by infected humans, including as they talk or cough, and whether they show symptoms or not.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering in public, especially where there is a high degree of community-based transmission (that is, when the source of infection is unknown). I live in California, where nearly 60,000 people have been infected.
Across the country 1.2 million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19, with more than 73,000 lives lost — and projections for the future (another peak in the fall?) are really grim.
Meanwhile, hospitals and their staff are pushed to the breaking point caring for the sick, with medical staff working weeks without days off to treat the afflicted, risking their own lives and those of their family. And yet, so many people refuse to take warnings seriously to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask in public.
It’s hard to pinpoint how many of us are clueless and careless — maybe half of those who go outside? A third? Some other fraction? — but it’s certainly way too many.
The lack of empathy is jarring. We need a shift.
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