Why I Still Wear a Mask in Public

Masks have become a rarity in many places, but not for this columnist

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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I must confess, whenever I’m in a crowded public place, I wear a face mask. Why? Because I’m a person living with ALS and doing everything I can to keep my immune system in tiptop shape.

Plus, being the only person wearing a mask doesn’t bother me. In fact, it has become a consistent accessory to my ensemble du jour.

Mixed messages

Of course, I’m well aware that face coverings have become optional for travelers and concertgoers alike. And that most Americans have made an informed decision to relax when, where, and why to wear a mask.

Yet, I’m still being urged to wear one.

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For example, I received several appointment reminders prior to a visit to the dermatologist. Each text included the stern instruction, “Everyone must be wearing a mask to be admitted to the practice.” The final text to me was in ALL CAPS.

What did I see when I entered the dermatology office? You guessed it. A receptionist wearing a mask and half of the patients in the waiting area with bare faces. Nothing was said, no masks were handed out, just business as usual.

Then, a few days ago, my husband and I brought our handicapped-accessible van to the auto shop to have the ramp repaired. On the door, as well as prominently posted on two walls inside, were signs stating that their business followed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and face coverings must be worn at all times.

No surprise here. None of the shop’s employees wore a mask. My husband and I were the only ones with one on.

My personal guidelines

Do I wear a mask everywhere? Well, no. Not when I’m outside, or inside with family and close friends, or when there’s lots of space between me and people I don’t know. But in crowded public areas where we’re breathing one another’s air — like a grocery store, waiting room, or auto shop — I mask up.

The main reason is that most of the time in crowded areas, I’m seated, riding my mobility scooter, which puts my head at about the height of a standing person’s belt buckle. So, by my observations, they are breathing down on me. In essence, I’m the recipient of sneezes, coughs, and conversations that spew spittle. (I know, ick!)

Thus, I choose to continue to wear my face mask in public, thank you very much.

If you’re like me and will be wearing a face mask to help keep you healthy this winter, know that you’re not alone. It’s one more way we care for ourselves.

Let’s support each other and learn to live well while living with ALS.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Mary Carola Connolly avatar

Mary Carola Connolly

I don't know about anyone else on this thread, but I certainly enjoyed not being sick for the last 2 years. So I'm wearing my mask whenever I'm in public and doubling up on wiping down carts and washing my hands. I don't need to be bringing any pathogens home or spread them around. As a caregiver I can't afford the downtime due to illness.


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