An amazing thing happened on Monday. That's the day that will go down in U.S. history as the day it suddenly became patriotic to wear a facemask in public.
After months of dismissing the notion that wearing a facemask might possibly have some value in containing a contagious disease, President Trump has changed his course.
Mr. Trump tweeted, "We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance."
And ... just like that ... with the stroke of one tweet, wearing a facemask has suddenly become OK. Perusing through the typical Facebook diatribe on Tuesday, I noticed there were posts that echoed the president's comments that wearing a facemask is now patriotic and a sensible thing to do.
What I'm left wondering out loud is how much better shape America would be in today if just one man, our president, had adopted this stance oh about three months ago.
Forget about the number of lives that could have been saved because the only people dying from COVID are elderly residents with pre-existing medical conditions. We don't care about them, so let's move on.
Think about how much more unified we would be as a country right now if President Trump had decided to endorse wearing facemasks months ago. It's hard to quantify something abstract like human emotion, but it's safe to say the whole facemask thing has been as divisive an issue as we've had this year.
By completely ignoring the advice of medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control, Mr. Trump drew a line in the sand. And it was a very clear and wide line.
People who value the knowledge of health professionals gathered on one side of this line. People who want to get their medical advice from a former game show host and pro wrestling personality gathered on the other.
Thus the facemask controversy was born. As I wrote in an editorial in Friday's edition of the Standard, wearing a facemask is 100% no fun. I don't enjoy it and I haven't talked to anyone who does. But, based on the advice of our most knowledgeable health officials, it seems like it's a smart thing to do when we're inside stores and public buildings.
I'm not trying to be mean-spirited or nasty, but I really don't understand the logic of why the leader of our nation would banish the advice of America's top health officials. To my knowledge, Mr. Trump has no background in infectious disease control. And, on the scant chance he does, no one in his administration has mentioned it, which would be an appropriate thing to do.
A whole lot of bickering and nationwide unrest could have been avoided if Mr. Trump had simply listened to the advice of people who have devoted their lives to disease control. Perhaps we wouldn't be quite so divided over an issue that should never have been divisive in the first place.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.