Dear Editor:

I am 38 years old, and I had a good friend my age with no underlying health concerns spend 20 days on a ventilator in April. Since then, I have always tried to wear a mask when entering enclosed public spaces and businesses. I am very careful to make sure my mask covers both my mouth and nose. It is not fun, or novel, and I don’t do it to make some political or social statement.

I do it for myself, because I don’t want to end up like my friend. Despite being out of the hospital, COVID-19 did a number on him and its effects have not simply gone away with his hospital stay.

I do it for my family, because I may not be in a high-risk age group, but my father and several close family members are. Having lost one parent unexpectedly several years ago, I in no way want to risk losing my father as well.

I do it for my community, because I enjoy the folks I see on Friday mornings for outdoor coffee, I like poking my head into shops on the square to say hi and grab a few things, and I like the hum of activity in our small towns. I don’t want to go back to the unnatural calm and still of April.

I wear a mask, despite the relatively few number of cases in Madison County when compared to our neighbors. I have to remind myself that those numbers are a snapshot of two weeks ago and the effort we make today doesn’t show up until two weeks from now. I stick with it, because I know COVID-19 is not going to go away until we have widespread access and adoption of a vaccine.  For the time being, my mask is as important as my truck keys when I leave the house. That is why I mask up.