Flu prevention. Medical face masks on grey background top view

At age 7, I went through a period of childhood that involved masks. 

This behavior was mostly influenced by television. The Lone Ranger. Batman and Robin. Quick Draw McGraw’s alter-ego, guitar-wielding crimefighter El Kabong. 

My brother and I would cut up mom’s frayed bath towels to use as face coverings and sometimes a cape – all the better to stay in character.

Who knew that the Leibowitz boys were 50 years ahead of our time?

Today, wearing a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic has strangely become a political statement, with progressives claiming the moral high ground for their willingness to don protective garb and conservatives taking the allegedly more muscular position that wearing face coverings is for sissies and germaphobes.

Tell that to Mr. Wrestling II and Mil Mascaras, two of my favorite masked professional wrestlers from back in the day. 

Personally, I prefer my political statements to be more clear-cut than simply refusing to wear an item of personal protective equipment. 

And when it comes to how to behave in a situation where more than 116,000 Americans have died, I tend to look beyond politics toward medical science, which on the subject of masks is abundantly clear.

Under a section headlined “Everyone Should,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”

 The CDC web page also touts the value of hand-washing, social distancing and frequent disinfection of high touch surfaces. 

As for cloth masks, they should not be used on children under 2, people with difficulty breathing or anyone who can’t remove the mask without help. 

The point of the mask, per the CDC? It’s “meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”

Given that the CDC hasn’t acquitted itself well during the pandemic, some folks may not find this persuasive. 

If so, try poring over a June 1 study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal that has been covering stuff like this since 1823. 

The study – actually a comprehensive review of 172 scientific studies in 16 countries on six continents – is also clear: “Physical distancing of 1 meter or more was associated with a much lower risk of infection, as was use of face masks.”

Standing opposed to science? 

Geniuses like former professional baseball player Aubrey Huff, who last week posted a Twitter video that has amassed more than 1.5 million views.

“If you want to wear a mask and live in fear the rest of your life, it’s certainly your prerogative,” said Huff. “But the vast majority of well-adjusted, sane, common sense people that aren’t sheep, that can reason for themselves, agree with me.”

“This is not a selfish thing for me,” he continued. “This is a thing for me to try and free Americans, so they can freely breathe. … Hell, I would rather die from coronavirus than to live the rest of my life in fear and wearing a damn mask.”

Oddly, if I recall Huff’s mediocre Major League career correctly, he batted wearing a helmet and wore a glove while playing the field. 

I’m surprised such a “he man” bothered with protective equipment, given what a display of weakness safety represents.

Then again, Huff probably used a thimble as a cup to protect his manhood from errant ground balls. 

Here’s a thought: If you want to make a political statement, save it for politics as opposed to toying with the safety of your fellow grocery shoppers or the grandfather next door.

 No one cares which side of the political aisle you’re on – only the grocery aisle.

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