Oliver: Wearing a mask isn’t fun, but it’s better than prolonging the pandemic

We all have had to make sacrifices to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19

On my wedding day, as I stood waiting to take my vows with my beloved Tony, I was seconds away from a full-blown panic attack.

No, I wasn’t about to become a runaway bride, and it had nothing to do with the life upon which I was embarking. I was really excited about that.

What I discovered that afternoon, much to my horror, is that my claustrophobia extended to the veil that was mere inches from my face. There’s even video of me blowing on it to give myself some breathing room.

I hadn’t spent any time in the veil before the big day. Why, it didn’t even cross my mind that it would be a problem … until it was a problem.

Somehow I managed to get through it and was more than a little relieved when Tony lifted the veil off my face to give me a kiss.

Imagine my dismay when this pandemic hit and I had to come to grips with the idea of putting on a mask over my nose and mouth. Would I experience the panic and discomfort that I felt in the veil?

As an essential worker at the newspaper, I had to not only wear a mask for short periods of time while out and about, but for hours at a time while I worked.

I must admit that it did take some getting used to. I also wear eyeglasses, which often fog up while I’m wearing a mask. It was a real challenge.

Despite all that, however, I did what I had to do. After all, at the beginning of this pandemic, before there even were vaccines, I had to make sure that I didn’t get COVID-19 and didn’t bring it home to my husband, who has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

A lot of trial and error was involved in finding ways to keep my eyeglasses from fogging up during the winter months when I had to drive into work. It still poses a challenge when going from air conditioning out into the recent heat and humidity.

Still, the goal remains the same: to not get COVID-19 and to not bring it home. This, despite the fact that Tony and I have been vaccinated for months. Of course, another goal is to not spread the virus to anyone else.

How I wish we could get past all of this and that all of us could truly be free from having to wear a mask! However, we all know that won’t be possible until we can get everyone on board to finally do what they need to do to get us to herd immunity.

What is that? Well, we need to get at least 70% of all the people in our area to be vaccinated.

Until then, we need to wear masks when they are required, maintain that 6 feet of physical distance and remember to wash our hands regularly. None of this seems particularly hard for those of us who have been doing it for more than a year now.

Does it stink that our kids will have to be masked in schools? Sure. Had we adults done what we should have been doing all along, maybe they wouldn’t have to wear them now.

Let’s not forget that our amazing health care workers, whether they are in hospitals or just in offices where they see patients, have to wear their masks all day, every day that they are working. And many of them work far longer than the average school day.

Now that the delta variant is spreading like wildfire among those who are not vaccinated, it’s unlikely that they will have a chance to take the masks off anytime soon.

Even if we’re vaccinated, we still run the risk of catching COVID-19, since this latest incarnation is very, very contagious. And we still can pass it along to others.

I, for one, am in no position to want to risk feeling even a little ill. I shudder to think what things would be like here if I can’t get out of bed. My dear Tony is unable to cook, get himself showered and shaved, pick out clothing, take his medications, etc.

Compared with that nightmare scenario, perhaps wearing a mask isn’t such a sacrifice.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.