Preface: I am a healthcare provider in the holistic health field for over 26 years. My Mom is a retired nurse, my cousin and best friend are active nurses, I have nurse and doctor clients and friends, so I am very connected to the health field in many ways, getting first-hand information regularly. I am also a small business owner, who was impacted by the shutdown and my business still is not back to where it needs to be but I am surviving and thriving thanks to my clients. I believe in science over politics and propaganda, and am generally against superfluous vaccines because of some health issues I have, but I decided to get the Covid vaccine (House Pfizer) to protect myself, my family, my clients, and my community. I was fully vaccinated before taking this trip. I’m so glad I was. If this post challenges your beliefs, I ask you to step outside yourself, ask yourself why, and try to look at things from this point of view.
My Mother has been fiercely independent since Dad died in 2014 and clung to her old home and neighborhood as long as she could. I had been urging her to move closer to us for years “before something happened” so we could enjoy her healthy senior years with her. Much like the Greek oracle Cassandra, my urgings were ignored. She finally sold my childhood home and moved into an apartment of her choosing near the old home and continued her active life. Then a pandemic hit and she was isolated for an entire year. My husband and I FaceTimed with her as much as we could and noticed a definite depression setting in.
I had been in my own bubble of home, that consisted of my husband and our critter kids, my office, where I see clients individually 3 days a week and employ strict Covid cleaning procedures after each client, and my online clients 2 days a week. I have not hung out with friends, eaten in a restaurant, gone out anywhere other than necessary shopping, and carefully masked for work and shopping with triple-layered, professionally-made masks whenever in public, even after recent vaccination. I have been to outdoor places, physically distanced, masked when necessary, but that is it. Since March 21, 2020.
When Mom finally decided it was time to move out of state, even though it wasn’t to be near us, I was happy and wanted to help. Mom was fully vaccinated (House Pfizer) as soon as she was eligible, with little to no side effects. Moving Mom during a pandemic was not my idea of a good or safe time, but it is what it is, so I agreed to help her pack and drive her car to her new destination 8 states away. And I was truly appalled by some of the things I saw.
Here are my observances through 8 states- Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas:
Even though masks are required in airports and on planes, people’s definitions of masks and how to wear them differ vastly. I saw many of what I call “nose commandos” - masks worn under the nose. Do they really think germs just come from the mouth? They don’t. They come from the nose too. People on the planes (Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines) were repeatedly asked by flight attendants to cover their noses. The flight staff must be so tired of this, as it seems worse than potty training toddlers. My husband and I potty trained our pandemic puppy in less time.
Some anti-maskers seem to think they are above any rule or law or mandate. I heard over and over whenever the recorded or live announcement came on in airports and planes that masks are required by law that “Its not a law, its a mandate. I wish they would get that right” by these armchair lawyers and know-it-alls, as they sat in their seats maskless, nose dangling over the top of a mask, munching on food or sipping drinks because they could get away with not wearing a mask for that. Kudos to Southwest Airlines for repeatedly admonishing the anti-maskers and saying that the mask must be replaced over the nose and mouth in between sips and bites.
Anti-maskers seem to think their rights are more important than my right to not be subjected to the germs from their substantial or even non-existant bubble. I see this as similar to smokers and their right to smoke interfering with my right to breathe clean air, since I am allergic to smoke. Many anti-maskers do not observe the 6 foot physical distancing rule either. Some of them even seem to actively want to get people sick, to challenge others' comfort levels, or maybe they just believe this whole Covid 19 pandemic to be a hoax, believers of conspiracy theories. I saw one older lady, in her 60’s in Tifton, GA come unmasked into the hotel breakfast area that was carefully curated with masked employees and signs everywhere saying masks required. My 86-year-old mother was standing right next to me. I turned around and told the woman she needed to get a mask, thinking maybe she forgot? She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said “Oh yeah, Ok.” Then she intentionally coughed in my face, before walking forward, without a mask to her friend and saying loudly, “I’m not a sucker for conspiracies.” I was livid that no one did anything and flicked her a bird and told her to grow up. Not my proudest moment but what were my other choices? The staff was suddenly overwhelmed with a bunch of anti-maskers coming in and no one was doing anything. Did I stop to call the police? What were the rules in that state? I didn’t know and we just needed to get some food for my mom so we could proceed with our trip. But. How rude and obnoxious and potentially life-threatening is that? Luckily, my mom and I had masks on and were fully vaccinated. Needless to say, I did not eat anything there. But my Mom did. When I went to get coffee later, that same woman’s friend came near me and tried to talk nice, asking where we are going. She was wearing a mask nose commando at that point but too close to me, reaching almost to touch me, as I moved away. I told her Kansas and she said they were going to New Orleans. I said, “Oh my favorite city! Lots of voodoo there. Don’t miss the cemeteries,” with a wicked glint in my eye. And she backed slowly away. I felt like she was trying to continue to push their anti-pandemic agenda.
On our epic drive through the South, I saw WAY too many confederate flags: on businesses, homes, private compounds, and echoed in state flags that very closely resemble the confederate flag. While I understand this is a part of our sad American history, these states lost that war 156 years ago and I believe those racist relics belong in a museum or a bonfire, rather than being allowed to sow more white supremacy seeds. That truly troubled me and I see a great divide between there and where I live now.
On a more positive note, Southern hospitality in the hotels and stores is alive and well. Service people were friendly, masked properly, extremely helpful, and my old Southern accent came back with a vengeance, to the point that my mom was looking at me strangely.
At our one fun stop, on a side trip to Pawhuska, OK, to visit Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile and have some good food, they had signs everywhere saying masks required, but no enforcement. There were people walking into and around the Mercantile without masks and apparently no consequences for those actions. I saw no one asked to leave or put on a mask. (We were there for several hours.) Masks were required to enter the restaurant area at the host stand so that was monitored better, and you could take them off at your physically-distanced table. People seemed more respectful there. However, if you are going to post a sign and not enforce it, thats ineffective and I have to wonder at the establishment’s view on the pandemic, and hence my continued support of their merchandise.
The audacity of the anti-maskers sadly seems to know no bounds in all of the states that I visited. This is disturbing on many levels because it exudes an attitude of elitism, and a mentality of narcissism, paranoia, and a distrust of authority. While I understand that we as Americans are fiercely independent, the US government has a right to declare a public health crisis, which it has done for the Covid 19 pandemic, based on science. It also has the right to make national mandates to require mask-wearing during such a time. Look back at history to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. And even if it wasn’t mandated, no one knows anyone else’s health problems, so why is wearing a mask so hard? Why can’t people do it for the good of their family, friends, community, even strangers? I’ve worn triple-filtered, specially-made masks 10 hours a day, 3 days a week at work and everywhere I’ve gone in public since June 27, 2020 . Because I care. About others. About myself. Its not super comfortable all the time but to me, its better than getting or giving Covid germs to anyone.
“Its just a flu” is a terrible minimalization. People can die from the flu all the time. I had swine flu back in 2009. That was our last pandemic. I caught it at my independent contractor job working as a massage therapist for someone else who did not do cleaning protocols, when my immune system was so run down from intense personal stress. I thought I was going to die. I was 3000 miles from family or anyone who actually cared about me and rode it out alone because I couldn’t drive. My parents almost jumped on a plane if my 104 degree fever did not come down that day. It was an utterly dark time, lasted nearly 2 weeks, took me 2 more weeks to recover, and I almost didn’t make it. When I finally could get out to my acupuncturist, he confirmed I must have had swine flu. I had all the symptoms. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. My own self care and fierce determination saved me, along with care packages of Pedialyte dropped off on my doorstep by a couple of distant neighbors.
As Americans, we can do better during this pandemic. Better at caring for others, our families, and communities. We can show more respect and simple common courtesy for ourselves and others, just by wearing masks in public, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated if able to help us reach herd immunity. Its the fastest and safest way to end this pandemic. But I fear that may not happen because of disinformation, narcissism, propaganda, conspiracy theories, paranoia, and other madness that drives us apart. Taking this stance as a holistic healthcare provider may not be popular with some of my colleagues, yet this is my viewpoint, especially after seeing the blatant disregard certain people have for the safety of others. May we somehow come together in health and peace and public safety to integrate the new normal as we step forward towards Life After Corona.
Brightest Blissed Blessings,