Last week, the News-Bulletin put out an unscientific Facebook poll asking people if they regularly wear a mask in public.

The overwhelming majority who participated — 85 percent — reported they do wear masks, compared to the 15 percent who say they don’t. A total of 1,788 people voted in the poll.

Masks have been required to be worn by everyone in the state since May. Many, including myself, have been wearing them in public weeks before it was mandated by the governor.

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Clara Garcia

News-Bulletin Editor

I don’t do it because I want to be politically correct or because I don’t want to pay the $100 fine. I do it for myself, my family, my friends, my coworkers and for my community.

First of all, both myself and my husband have underlying medical conditions that if we contract COVID-19, we’re at higher risk for more serious symptoms. While we both have our conditions well under control, we don’t want to compromise ourselves or each other. It’s not worth it.

Do I like wearing a mask? Of course not — no one does. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hot, it’s hard to breathe and it fogs up my glasses. It’s not normal to have something covering our faces.

The experience of wearing a mask is not a pleasant one, but I do it — I do it because I actually respect the people I’m around, and I would hope they feel the same about me by wearing one themselves.

While more people are wearing masks than not, it worries me that some don’t understand the risks and the consequences of their actions. The conspiracy theories about masks are all over the place.

Some see it as a sign of solidarity, as if they making a stand together against authority. Others say wearing masks is politically driven and mandating the act is a scare tactic and unconstitutional.

Some also say they’re not fully convinced of the efficacy of wearing masks. They claim carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped under the cloth and can make you sick. This is not true, according to the University of Maryland Medical System.

“Properly-fitted masks offer adequate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth. This makes the accumulation of carbon dioxide impossible.”

I am not a public health expert, but I do listen to them — much more than I do to those who aren’t.

Many people genuinely want to keep their community safe, and recognize that masks reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. And while ideologies differ on the issue, I don’t think anyone really wants to purposely transmit the virus. At least I hope not.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a farce, it’s not a scam and it’s not something someone made up to take over the world. It’s a matter of public health that everyone needs to take seriously.

So if I see you at a store, at a meeting or at the very few places I now go to, know that I wear my mask not out of fear but out of respect for you, your family, your friends, your coworkers and our community.

Editor/Publisher

Clara Garcia is a native of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. She is the president of the New Mexico Newspaper Association, and is a member of the Pilot Club of Belen.

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