How long after the Covid 19 pandemic ends will we still be finding discarded masks littering the ground?
It's probably an impossible question to answer, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing them for a long time to come. Every time I go for a ride (or a jog, or a walk . . .) I'll see them everywhere I look -- soggy, dirty, and gross -- on the sidewalks, streets, and grass.
|Just one of a dozen or so that I spotted |
on my ride today.
I should emphasize that the pandemic is far from over, but it's hard to tell from looking around at people shopping or dining out. I still wear a mask when I go into a store, but often I'll be the only one. I've had the shots - but many people still haven't, and cases are actually rising again. Needless to say, new cases and deaths are rising the most where vaccination rates are the lowest -- that's not a coincidence. As soon as the pandemic (even just the belief in the pandemic), and the wearing of masks, or getting a vaccine, became cannon fodder in the culture wars - a declaration of one's political alignment - the idea of "getting back to normal" became an illusion. If all these anti-vax folks were only taking themselves out of the gene pool, I'd say good riddance - but unfortunately, it's not just themselves they're putting at risk. All those folks who can't get a vaccine because of a medical condition, or age, or whatever - they're at risk too. And the more people pass on the infection, the greater the risk becomes that new variants will emerge - and eventually one or more of those could render the vaccines useless. We still have a long way to go to get "back to normal."
Then again - is "normal" really something we should be aiming for?
Like I said - I still wear a mask when I'm indoors with strangers. The risk of infection for a vaccinated person is low, but it still happens. But I can't imagine even for a moment taking that mask off when I get outside, and tossing it on the ground. Even if it ripped, or became otherwise useless, I can't imagine doing that. Then again, I also can't imagine tossing any kind of garbage out on the ground that way, but on any bike ride, I'll see all kinds of litter along the side of the road. Fast-food bags and packaging, plastic soda bottles, cans, drink cups, and cigarette packs (and butts, of course) make up the most common items. In the past few months, though, face masks have joined that list.
Tossing trash on the ground - whether it's a drink cup, an empty cigarette pack, or a medical mask - refusing to bear even the slightest inconvenience for the good of our neighbors, refusing to get a shot to help stem a pandemic, driving a hulking gas-guzzling SUV as we see the west burning up, watering lawns as reservoirs dry up -- these things might seem unrelated, but I figure it's all connected. They're all manifestations of a kind of selfishness, and they're all like symptoms of a disease. A virus, if you will. And the virus is us.
Sorry if this all seemed pretty negative. It's all just some thoughts I was having on my bike ride this morning.