By AMBER DAY, MD
I recently wrote in support of the recent Cincinnati city counsel resolution regarding mask wearing indoors in public spaces. My hope would be that people would be masking already to protect those around them, but given the seriousness of the situation for our community, I feel it is wise to have a more concrete resolution during the current pandemic.
This resolution would in no way harm the economy or businesses, as other regulations regarding coronavirus might. Specifically, its goal is to allow businesses to remain open safely, and decrease transmission of the virus in hopes of preventing economic hardship. As I considered whether this resolution would infringe on my freedoms, I realized that it may be likened to regulations requiring people to wear shoes in public spaces, or wearing appropriate clothing. These regulations, while they propose an action that may be uncomfortable, pose no threat to the wearer and serve to protect the safety of others.
Additionally it is important to remember that every right comes with a corresponding responsibility. In this case, the right to convene in public places necessitates the responsibility to wear a face covering in public to protect others.
As Catholic physicians, we can look to our Faith’s social teachings for additional guidance. The principal of the Common Good teaches us the importance of participating in actions that promote good of ALL, as long as we are ensuring the dignity of each individual human person. Mask wearing promotes the good of all, and does not offend my human dignity. Furthermore, Solidarity means recognizing the responsibility we have for each other and taking an active role to help others achieve their full potential. Evangelium Vitae says, “Yes, every man is his ‘brother’s keeper,’ because God entrusts us to one another,.. This is a great gift of the Creator, placed as it is at the service of the person and of his fulfillment through the gift of self and openness to others…(#19)” Whether or not mask wearing is beneficial to the wearer herself, I would say that I certainly have a responsibility to help others stay healthy and safe. My prayer is that mask wearing becomes not an awkward or ostracizing action, but a way of smiling at another and saying, “I care about you!” ((especially when I am wearing the beautiful and classy Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart mask that my mom just made for our family!)