A little moderation on masks could go a long way in rural areas, Kentucky writer tells a national audience

KENTUCKY HEALTH NEWS

Writing from Anderson County for The Washington Post, columnist Teri Carter says some advocates of mask wearing go too far for rural areas like hers.

“Even as Americans are getting vaccinated, we are still fighting about masks,” she writes. “Because thanks to dangerously bungled messaging from the former president and his mask-snubbing administration, as well as conflicting messages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fights about masks are long past being about safety. Many of my neighbors stopped thinking about the coronavirus pandemic a long time ago. But they may never be finished arguing about it.”

Carter writes about politicians, pastors and churches, and also about national news media.

“When I hear politicians and national media organizations saying that vaccine hesitancy is due to the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or because rural people in Trump country don’t believe in science, I wonder how many people they’ve talked to in towns like mine,” Carter writes to introduce her key anecdote:

I live on a small lake. On Sunday afternoon, my next-door neighbor (a Trump supporter) came over to help us back our boat trailer into the woods. The first thing he said was, “I’m vaccinated! I can hug you now!” After we finished with the trailer, as we talked about coming out of the pandemic and having an outdoor party to celebrate, he said, “Okay, what’s this whole thing about wearing masks outside — outside! — after the shots? It’s such complete bull—-. For crying out loud, if they want people to trust the vaccine, they need to give people a reason to get the vaccine besides how much it will help everybody else.”

Carter concludes, “From where I sit — out here where neither I nor anyone I know has ever worn masks outside — vaccine hesitancy and debates over masks are not about people needing more information, but about the need to get local leaders that people trust, like their preachers, Republican club heads and volunteer firemen, to do the talking. They would be a significant improvement over national politicians who continue to knowingly spread falsehoods about everything from the coronavirus to the 2020 election results.”