June 20, 2024


Science It Works

Letter: Does science tell us to wear masks outdoors? | Letters To Editor

Does science tell us to wear masks outdoors?

To the editor: Yesterday I had an experience that I’ve had many times in the last year, so I’ve been pondering this letter for some time.

As I walked along the sidewalk in Great Barrington with no other pedestrians in sight, my mask was pulled down. A woman crossed the street and found herself walking toward me. She looked at me as if I were wearing an explosive vest and had my finger on the trigger. She scampered sideways over a small snow bank and ran past me.

I was not going to speak to her or ask her to join me in song. Our passing would have been over in seconds. I’m wondering: With all the talk about “following the science,” can someone direct me to the science that says the virus can be transmitted in a few seconds outdoors? What is the logic behind this behavior when we know that dosage, duration and distance all play a role?

Before any readers think this is somehow political, let me stop you. I am greatly relieved by the change in administration, though I voted for a third-party candidate. I wear my mask without complaint to every store and to church, and as a teacher in a hybrid situation, I wear it all day every day at work. There is no question about the efficacy of masks.

Back in the spring as I hiked a South County trail, I came across a family of three. I stepped to the side to let them pass. The mother scooped up her young son and plunged into the brush where she was no doubt accosted by deer ticks, a much greater threat than I posed. Weeks later, I encountered a lone hiker wearing a mask, miles from anyone else, as protection from what I have no idea. I often see people in my neighborhood walking in the middle of the street where their masks will surely not protect them from the traffic.

Can someone who practices the behavior I’ve described please explain the science or the logic to me? I can be convinced if the argument makes sense. If it’s simply that the governor says so, that’s not good enough. He doesn’t get a pass on the science or logic. I need a solid reason to wear a mask outdoors when I am not near other people.

Kevin Kavanah, Great Barrington