Opinion | Tony Jones: Your freedom ends at the tip of my nose | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Tony Jones: Your freedom ends at the tip of my nose

Flash back to April 2021, and here we are again. COVID-19 numbers are skyrocketing and masking requirements for Summit County are back in play. What’s a concerned Summit County citizen to do? Follow the mandates for masking and social distancing? Get vaccinated?

Why yes, that’d be a good start!

My advocating for that will likely result in responses seeking to educate me on the ineffectiveness of masking, citing everything from fogged glasses to scientific studies (or the lack thereof) to prove the case. But let’s take a moment to consider masking as a component in helping bring this latest surge under control.

While there is science supporting the use of masks as a way of controlling the spread of COVID-19, our imperfect implementation of the protocol is a significant variable in its effectiveness. As a reader pointed out to me, our current practice of wearing a mask into a restaurant only to take it off once seated doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Sure, we’re limiting our spread of particles between the entrance and our table, but are we negating that benefit when we later unmask?

Maybe so, but what’s the alternative? Wearing a mask 100% of the time while at a restaurant or bar isn’t realistic. Our current imperfect masking practices may in fact be the middle ground that our country needs to avoid the shutdowns of spring 2020 and keep our economy intact. Might we be sacrificing the health of some of our citizenry in the process by allowing this imperfection? Possibly, but that’s one of the compromises we’ve made in trying to navigate our way through this pandemic.

It could also be that the minimal amount of prevention that wearing a mask in that restaurant scenario provides is worth it from the every-little-thing-helps perspective. Some will claim that the minimal amount of protection that social distancing and masking provide isn’t worth the loss of choice for Americans, that we’re giving up our freedom for something that isn’t 100% effective.

I’d counter that argument in two ways: First, a Summit County health care provider said even small efforts will go a long way in curbing this current surge. We shouldn’t let the quest for the perfect defense against COVID-19 be the enemy of progress toward improved control of the disease.

I also believe that your freedom and liberties end at the tip of my nose. I’m not OK with individuals endangering me or my loved ones so that they can practice their own brand of liberty. I think most people would agree that something should be done to stop the individual who is racing a car up and down the street that their kids play on. That racer might claim it’s their God-given right to drive recklessly, but how does that square with the God-given right the rest of us have to be protected against the actions of others? Whether it’s putting a mask on to minimize spread or getting a vaccination, your choice to not do so puts others at risk, and your freedom to continue that practice should be viewed in that context.

And now to that big ol’ gorilla in the corner: the COVID-19 vaccine. While I and most of my immediate and extended family are vaccinated, I must admit that I have become concerned with its efficacy. But given the significant numeric difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Colorado, it still seems getting vaccinated should be a no-brainer.

But the push for vaccination has expanded to the need for a booster and now even to talk of a second booster. The vaccination moving target and the numerous breakthrough cases we’ve seen have shaken my faith in this aspect of prevention, and I’m glad other methodologies for addressing COVID-19 are being explored. But in the meantime, I will continue to follow masking mandates in hopes that this small effort will help with curbing the surge.

Tony Jones

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