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October 5, 2020

Masks and no masks

Reuel S. Amdur

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Donald Trump is paying the price for his failure to adhere to the practice of wearing a mask whenever in contact with other people, especially in crowds. His diagnosis of COVID-19 serves as a stern warning for the rest of us.

Yet, there is one exception that needs to be taken into account.  There is a small number of people who cannot wear a mask.  Let me give some examples.  Some people with autism or with limited intelligence.  Some people with serious anxiety.  There may be others, but all in all they are few and far between.  If the rest of us adhere to the mask-wearing practice, we should be able to tolerate the exceptions with a reasonable level of safety.

But the problem is how to know who is exempt and how to get the word to businesses and other public places about the rights of people who are exempt.  This situation is akin to that of blind people having a right to enter places with a guide dog.  However, the authorities have not established a procedure for establishing a medical exemption from the mask policy, nor has there been a publicity campaign to advise businesses and other public facilities of the right of people with medical justification to enter maskless. 

We need a clear policy as to who may issue a certification of exemption from the rule and some sign that exempt persons can show—a letter from a designated authority or some kind of badge.

These people are to be respected.  The rest of us need to wear our masks.  We don’t want to become like the Trumps. 

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