Meet Byrdie columnist, Juhi. She’s a wellness and health guru, acupuncturist, Ayurvedic doctor, activist, CEO and founder of The Juhi-Ash Center in New York City’s Upper East Side. Each month, she’ll be answering your questions and sharing her tips on how to leave a healthier, more centered life from a holistic perspective. Got questions? Follow her @juhi says and DM us @byrdiebeauty so she can answer them in her next column.
In all its uncertainty, there are two certain defenses in the containment of COVID-19: The collaborative diligence of the global scientific community and our own integrity. As a member of the medical community, it is beyond my grasp how the health issue of a pandemic became political fodder. For me, wearing a mask in public is a show of respect for the preciousness of life. My own and yours. I am not concerned with your political leanings. I am concerned that you stay alive. If you believe that wearing a mask is initially uncomfortable, I will acquiesce. But I will tell you that intubation is far more so. If you believe that a distance of six-feet infringes upon your civil liberties and freedom of speech then I ask you this: what strength do those inherent rights have from six-feet-under?
For me, wearing a mask in public is a show of respect for the preciousness of life.
Speaking of six-feet-under, would you go to the undertaker for life coaching advice? Would you take the broken heel of your boot to the butcher for repair? Trust the seamstress with sutures? You would not. This is the moment to stay in ones’ lane of knowledge. To accept advice from those who have spent their lives in the pursuit, practice and concern of saving our lives. The most esteemed constellation of medical minds agree with current scientific fact that using a face covering in public reduces the risk of transmission or contraction by ninety-seven percent. When was the last time you had a ninety-seven percent chance of success offered to you on anything? Those learned medical minds are the minds whose lead I will follow regarding my health, rather than something I glance at on Twitter. Numbers are factual. Science is factual. My practice is one of Integrated Health. I trust in science. I also trust that the human spirit is limitless in its capacity for compassion. And the mind, boundless in its ability to guide our actions. Can we not shift our view of masks from discomfort to empathy? We have the power to save innumerable lives with a small piece of cloth. In March 2020, the world population was estimated just shy of eight-billion. There is strength in numbers. Imagine if tomorrow all eight-billion faces wore a mask into the public ring and wrapped ourselves around the grief for the more than six-hundred-thousand who no longer stand with us. If we stand together masked, we lessen the potential of greater grief and honor those we have lost.
Can we not shift our view of masks from discomfort to empathy? We have the power to save innumerable lives with a small piece of cloth.
We are in this ring together. We are not in an inconvenience. We are in a fight. A literal fight for life. Our opponent, a ghost-boxer throwing unseeable swings. Round by round, a skilled boxer learns his opponents weaknesses. Can we not find the common sense to give most of the rounds to the scientists, rather than to our own stubbornness? This is not shadow-boxing. We will make contact. Perhaps an inadvertent chin-clip that will not harm the recipient but only falter his stance into another. And another. And another. A mask is a good right-hook to keep our cagey virus-opponent at bay. It is our collective effort that grants time for scientists to develop the knock-out.
I do not know a physician, scientist or member of the medical community who will tell you not to wear a mask. Dr. Alexes Hazen, MD FACS has this to tell you:
“Just do it. Just wear a mask. But why should we wear masks? There was so much unfortunate misinformation at the beginning of this pandemic that made people question the utility of wearing masks. We were told it didn’t help and then we were told it did help and then we were told it was necessary. This confused many people. So, what’s the deal? In short—masks help the wearer and the public. If you wear a mask, even a cloth mask, it reduces the droplet contamination of your breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing dramatically. Masks can also protect you—the air you breathe through a mask is filtered to some degree so therefore this is protective. Think about healthcare workers taking care of COVID-infected patients who wore N-95 masks and didn’t get the virus! Worn properly, N-95 are protective against getting the virus. So wear your mask and if you won’t do it for others, then wear it for you. It will also protect you.”
Should you need more incentive to mask up, consider this advice from Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum DO, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and my colleague at the Juhi-Ash Center. “The statistics are clear—wearing a mask saves lives, irrefutably," she says. "We all need to protect each other by protecting ourselves first. I’ve been seeing patients in my office, with both of us wearing masks. Doctors are seeing patients on the front lines in the hospitals, wearing masks. Studies have shown there is a very low infection rate for us, simply by wearing masks and protecting ourselves. Masks are essential to protect ourselves and those around us. It’s that simple.”
There you have the advice of two esteemed Medical Professionals. Should you require a third, call your own trusted physician. I am certain they will conquer.
Of course it’s your choice just to roll the dice and hope for the best. I will tell you that you have a fourteen-percent chance of rolling two sixes. COVID-19 is not a fan of statistics or the mask. COVID-19 has no political leaning, no demographic, religious, or border agenda. Its only agenda is to take as many lives as possible. The medical community's agenda is to save as many lives as possible. Please follow their leadership concerning your health and the health of each of us. Let the virus know that its intent on separating us is the exact thing that will bring us together. Its strength weakens in our solidarity. Please, please, wear a mask.