The Face Mask Dilemma

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The Face Mask Dilemma

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Since the pandemic went into full swing in March 2020, the use of face masks has been the center of debate all across the United States. Americans perceive the policing of face masks as an infringement on their First Amendment rights despite the overall safety of the public's health being the major concern. As someone who worked in restaurants their whole life, I understand that working customer service isn't for the faint-hearted. However, anti-maskers were prominent despite multiple signs in the windows mandating masks upon entry/exit, COVID safety procedures displayed everywhere, and every employee wearing a mask and enforcing the guidelines issued by the CDC. Some even went as far as creating forged exemption cards that forced the Federal Trade Commission to issue a statement against them. I have been verbally assaulted, had stuff thrown at me, and even had individuals take off their mask and cough towards me just to entice some sort of violence or display their "dominance" over those who are fearful of catching the virus. Right before I resigned, multiple coworkers caught the virus simply from interacting with customers in the restaurant. Our managers at the time refused to tell anyone for weeks or notify anyone who had come into contact with them to get tested – including me. This attributed to why I left the customer service industry a couple months after the pandemic began: the threat to my personal health and that of my high-risk family members did not exceed the monetary value of a job in that industry when managers are more concerned about profit than the safety of their employees. Instead of removing these individuals from the restaurant, managers would cater towards them to ensure they didn't lose a customer, effectively displaying their concerns: money, money, and money. Americans seem to value the economic standpoint of their nation and their freedom to do whatever they desire, even if it means potentially killing someone, just to maintain that status of "freedom" that they pride themselves so much in. In fact, President Trump refused to extend quarantine or even fully enforce it due to the economic instability it proposed by shutting down the government and his reluctance to pay citizens more than a one-time stimulus check of $1200. The economy did slightly waiver, but as of September of 2020, more than 200,000 Americans have died from the virus - higher than any other country in the world. I would think that the survival of your constituents would be more of a pressing matter than handing out "free money" (as many Americans called it), but obviously our subpar leader thinks otherwise. I will not return to the restaurant business for quite sometime to maintain my health, my roommate’s health, and my parents/grandmother’s health. We’ve been forced to do our best to keep ourselves safe because the federal government reopened the entire country after partial lockdowns that proved ineffective.
This is a text story from my personal experience living in the pandemic.

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This item was submitted on September 29, 2020 by Harlie Grace using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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