You know the scene. You and a fellow shopper spot each other across the grocery store parking lot as you both head toward the building. One of you is wearing a mask. There’s an exchange of side-eye, judgmental glances between a person deemed too paranoid and a person deemed too cavalier.
Since health officials began recommending everyone wear face coverings in public to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a new social phenomenon has emerged. Whatever strangeness people felt upon donning masks has been replaced by a wariness of anyone who doesn’t. Someone infected with the virus can spread it even without showing symptoms, so in the pandemic era, everyone is suspect.
The tension seems to build with each new diagnosis. As of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Washington state had 15,905 cases of COVID-19, including 870 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
Grocery store chains say they strongly encourage shoppers to cover their faces to keep one another safe. On Monday, Costco started requiring it. And Whole Foods this week began providing free, single-use masks at all its stores, though it stopped short of requiring customers to wear them.
Read the entire story at The Seattle Times. Jared Baeten, Professor of Global Health and Vice Dean of the School of Public Health, is quoted.