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Offered by: Ellen McCormick. MD

More than a year into the Covid 19 Pandemic most families have transitioned to the public health need for mask use by both parents and children when in public places. This doesn’t mean that this action is ever convenient. And it is human nature to rebel against inconvenience, I sometimes think that we humans can tolerate real physical pain more easily than we can stand inconvenience, especially a new inconvenience that is imposed long after the convenient path has become a well worn norm. The new rules immediately seem an unjust imposition and a seizure of ones personal rights. We have walked this path before.

In 1955 the Ford motor company first started offering seat belts as an option in their new cars, but buyers did not want them and often requested that the dealers remove them. However, the safety data was and is overwhelming for the benefits to seatbelted passengers when auto accidents occur. Then, in 1958 Saab made seatbelts standard equipment and the rest of the auto industry soon followed suit. Americans were still resistant to seatbelts and usage was poor despite the safety concerns. By the 1980’s the first laws were passed by various states to require usage and were met with extreme resistance. The state representative in Michigan who sponsored such a measure received hate mail comparing him to Hitler. As of August 2020 New Hampshire was the only state without a law for mandatory seatbelt use by adults.  The use of child restraint seats in cars was also a fraught journey despite clear evidence for the protection car seats afforded to children during automobile crashes. However, we humans worry most about the welfare of our children and the arguments and supporting data for car seats were received by concerned parents, and soon laws were changed to mandate their use, much to our childrens’ benefit.

We face a very similar situation with the need to mask for control of the virus. The data are clear on mask use but implimentation by this standard most certainly threatens our convenience. If you regularly buckle your kids into car seats and require your teens to buckle up or loose driving privileges, congratulations you are being a responsible parent to the benefit of your family and your community. While you’re at it put your mask on as you leave to go shop and tell your kids to also “buckle up their lungs” for the benefit of the whole community. It isn’t convenient but how often in your whole life have you found safety to be an exercise in convenience. And that mask doesn’t hurt a bit, it’s just inconvenient. PLEASE, buckle up, and mask up. This too will pass.