Where Are All the N95s?

masked me

A myriad of emotions has swamped my mind this evening. Right now I’ve settled on anger, with a dash of disappointment and futility. My life would be so much easier if I were the type of person that could believe that COVID-19 is a hoax that is going to disappear after the election. If I could succomb to the belief that the pandemic is part of a conspiaracy to make people dependent on the government and turn America into a communist country. If I were the type of person that believed masks were useless and mandating their use is a ploy to take away our personal freedoms. My life would be a hell of a lot easier if I only cared about myself and my own well being. But I’m not.

I’m angry I have to make hard decisions for myself and my family. My boyfriend goes back to work in the office tomorrow, my youngest daughter’s cross country practice starts in three days and her school starts in two weeks, and my oldest starts college in three weeks. Again I am faced with the dilema of whether or not they should be seeing friends. I loosened the reins and now I want to pull them back in. And they are pissed off at me. I am pissed off at the world.

In the county I live in, the number of new cases has increased by 13.5% over last week and we recorded our first death. The seven-day trend is taking a sharp spike upwards. If only, I could give in to the notion that these stats are a fear-mongering tool to scare people into towing the line. It is a lot less scarier to believe nothing is wrong, the data is skewed or inaccurate and COVID-19 is just like the ordinary flu. I mean, if we stop testing, our numbers would look so much better, right? My life could go back to “normal,” whatever that means. I could send my children to sleepovers and go to parties and cookouts.

Yes, I do believe there is a fine line between being paralized with fear versus living life, taking sensible measures to be safe and reckless versus throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever you want. According to guidelines from the CDC and WHO, if everyone wore face coverings in public and followed the social distance regulations in regards to get togethers. We could knock this virus out like other countries have. I really don’t understand the adversity surrounding wearing them. We have all sorts of health regulations such as wearing shoes and shirts. Restaruants have 100s of regulations regarding safe food service and people don’t seem to have a problem following those rules?

What makes me angry is that I have to rely on other people following the rules for my safety and those around me. So here’s my big question of the day… Why aren’t the N95 respirator masks available to the general public yet? These masks protect the wearer as well as others. If other people chose to take their chances and not wear a face covering, so be it. It would no longer be an issue. I understand in the beginning the N95 respirator masks were a scarcity. It makes sense that this PPE was only available to front-line healthcare workers. However, it has been five month already. Why aren’t they readily available? There are at least 35 approved manufacturers of N95 respirators on the CDC website. Why isn’t the government stepping in to help ramp up manufacturing of these type masks in various sizes, shapes and colors. No one knows when a vaccine is going to readily available, but this technology already exists! Why aren’t we utilizing it to the fullest capacity and distributing them to everyone. A stimulus check and a supply of N95 respirator masks! We can already buy the cloth face coverings from Walmart in 10 packs from Hanes. Why can’t they do the same with a mask that offers protection to the wearer?