About a week ago, I got tested for COVID-19.
The results were negative. I'm clear. My whole household is clear.
So, why did I go in for a test? Well, a person who had contact with someone in my household came in contact with a third person who tested positive for COVID-19. So, that's two degrees of separation from the person who was COVID-positive and my household. Of course, then the person who was in contact with someone in my household came down with a plethora of symptoms related to COVID-19.
So, we all went – as a family – and had our brains "tickled" through our noses. Getting tested was the right thing to do, though I wasn't a fan of the procedure.
Did You Know I'm Essential
I mention all this to talk how important COVID-19 is in our lives as reporters.
This was my first COVID-19 test, but some of my coworkers have had several. Yet we're all still out there every day, talking with people, attending meetings or putting ourselves in places where someone might breathe the coronavirus on us.
Hard as it may be to believe, but journalists are considered essential workers, like nurses and the people who stock grocery store shelves. News – accurate information – is important to the functioning of our world. We need information to make smart decisions.
Let's Talk About Masks, Baby
But we get information by talking to folks, and if folks won't talk, that's where we see chinks in the armor.
A few weeks ago I wanted to do a story about people who don't want to wear masks. Not the people who think COVID-19 is a fake government plot along with "Big Mask" to do their evil bidding, but just people who don't feel comfortable in them.
Sadly, it was hard getting people to talk, especially to talk on the record, about how they hate masks but aren't really anti-maskers.
It's a position that, if I chat among my friends, family and casual acquaintances, is fairly common. They don't like masks, but they begrudgingly wear them. Or, if they can get away with it, they just don't go places where masks are required.
One Woman Plus Me
One lady I spoke with – she wouldn't allow her name to be used – said she just won't wear them. Period. She orders her groceries and has them put in her trunk. She doesn't go to church. She calls on the phone or does virtual meetings. On rare occasions when a mask might be required, she just goes without.
Personally, I hate masks. I wear glasses, and no matter what trick I use, my glasses fog up. I feel slightly claustrophobic in my mask. But I wear it when I should.
That's what I expected people to say to me in the story I wanted to write. Alas, being even a little "anti-mask" is unpopular, and will get you lambasted on social media. So no one wants to give that opinion, even though, off the record, I hear it a lot.
It's like putting a mask over the truth. And, of that, I am also not a fan.
Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.