COVID-19 and Minnesota Masks

Good news: the SARS-CoV-2 virus isn’t killing us nearly as fast as it was in April, May and the first part of June.

Bad news: the COVID-19 pandemic is still in progress. Minnesotans are still dying. So are folks in other states and nations.

We can’t cure the disease. We’re not sure exactly how it affects us. Neither of which is odd, since it’s a previously-unknown virus.

There is, however, quite a bit we can do to help each other. If we use our brains.

COVID-19, Minnesota and Me

Minnesota Masks: Executive Order 20-81

'Peter Vang and Tanaya Walker Vang of Shoreview take shelter from the rain on May 17 after shopping at the St. Paul Farmers' Market....' Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News
(From Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News, used w/o permission.)
(Masked Minnesotans in the rain. (May 17, 2020))

Minnesota’s mask mandate: What you need to know
Dan Kraker, Sara Porter; MPR (Minnesota Public Radio)
(July 22, 2020; updated July 23, 2020)

“After calls from public health officials and several days of signaling support for a statewide mask order, Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday finally issued a rule requiring people to wear masks or face coverings in public indoor spaces in Minnesota.

“More than half of U.S. states have issued similar mandates. So have most major Minnesota cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud. …”

Emergency Executive Order 20-81 goes into effect at 11:59 pm Friday. In practical terms, that’s really early Saturday morning: July 25, 2020.

EEO 20:81 defines a face covering as something that covers the mouth and nose. But not those which have features that let droplets out. On the other hand, “a religious face covering” that keeps the wearer from infecting others is included.

That last point seems likely to inspire conspiracy theories. I’ll get back to that.

Executive Order 20-81 doesn’t require face masks everywhere.

For example, I could sit on my front stoop this Saturday without a mask and not be a scofflaw. Partly because I’d be well over six feet from the sidewalk.

Pretty much anywhere else that’s not inside my house, though, I’ll be wearing a mask.

Folks with medical and/or psychiatric conditions that make breathing difficult, or would prevent them from removing a mask, needn’t use face masks. Provided that they stop exhaled droplets with some other tech.

Kids five years old and under are exempt, too.

Common Sense

The masked Minnesotan, Brian H. Gill.I’m pretty sure I’m not an exempt individual by Executive Order 20-81’s standards.

My medical records include an impressive list of maladies. But none make wearing a face mask more than uncomfortable in hot weather. Very uncomfortable when it’s hot and humid.

In any case, the new rules won’t affect me.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t get out nearly as much as many folks.

With a potentially-lethal disease in the air, figuratively and sometimes literally, I’m inside even more than usual. Partly because I’m in at least two high-risk groups: comparatively old, with bothersome health issues.

And partly because I don’t see a point in risking my neighbors’ health. Which doesn’t make wearing a face mask a badge of virtue for me.

Apart from my household, nearly all my social activity is online.

Whether or not I’m an introvert depends on semantics. I’ve been called a loner, but not shy or reticent. I enjoy interacting with others, and enjoy thinking about data I’ve found.

So — wearing a minimally-bothersome face mask, practicing social distancing and generally acting as if the COVID-19 pandemic is real? For me, it’s just practicing common sense.

Or, from another viewpoint, wearing a face mask brands me as a sheeple: one of those dim dupes who don’t believe that COVID-19 is a conspiracy.

Watching the Weirdness

Wannabe Prophets and Need-to-Know

Albrecht Dürer, '...The Sea Monster and the Beast with the Lamb's Horn.'
(From Albrecht Dürer, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Dürer’s “The Revelation of St John: 12. The Sea Monster and the Beast with the Lamb’s Horn.” (ca. 1498))

I’m slightly surprised, but not disappointed, that none of the ‘End Times Bible Prophecies’ flickering through my social media feeds have gotten traction.

Not that I’ve noticed, anyway.

I talked about diadems, attempted divination and Ezekiel’s spaceships a few months back. And shared my strictly-for-laughs spiritual conspiracy theory involving Revelation 13, etymology and cruise ships. (March 31, 2020)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Christian and a Catholic.

I’m convinced that Jesus is alive, and will return. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 668679)

The timetable and details of the Final Judgement are apparently available on a ‘need to know’ basis. The Second Person of the Trinity didn’t need to know, so I sure don’t.

I’ve read what our Lord said about trying to second-guess headquarters about the Parousia. (Matthew 24:3644, 25:13; Mark 13:3233)

Besides, I’m not qualified to make God-level decisions. And that’s another topic. Topics.

The Paranoids are After Me!!!

Great Seal of the United States, reverse side, colorized.Glitchy thinking isn’t limited to America’s traditional End Times Bible Prophecies and other religion-themed goofiness.

I haven’t found a comprehensive and reliable list or discussion of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Most likely because the pandemic’s less than a year old. I’m guessing that it takes time for conspiracy buffs to work out widely-accepted alternate realities.

Plus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is new.

Scientists, and the rest of us, are on a steep learning curve. That can be, and arguably is, unsettling. Particularly when we’re dealing with, and dying from, an incurable disease.

Conspiracy Theories: the Usual Suspects

'At the Sign of the UNHOLY THREE' cartoon, warning against fluoridated water, polio serum and mental hygiene. And 'communistic world government.' (1955)So far, COVID-19-themed conspiracy theories seem to be the usual ‘it is a Jewish/Muslim/American/Chinese/whatever plot’ thing.

With the usual ‘vaccinations are bad’ trimmings. That’s a can of worms I’ll leave for another day.

I ran into an interesting and apparently-informed piece about folks who believe conspiracy theories:

One takeaway from the op-ed, my opinion, is that nobody’s immune to screwball beliefs. Including me.

Someone who’s smart, or a white-collar worker, or living in a ‘nice’ neighborhood can be just as convinced that shape-shifting space-alien lizard-men are behind the Illuminati-Masonic-Pixie cabal as some guy living in part of a trailer.

Tanya Basu’s piece has a 10-point ‘how to talk to a conspiracy believer’ list. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Always, always speak respectfully
  2. Go private
  3. Test the waters first
  4. Agree. Remember the kernel of truth?
  5. Try the “truth sandwich”
  6. Or use the Socratic method
  7. Be very careful with loved ones
  8. Realize that some people don’t want to change, no matter the facts
  9. If it gets bad, stop
  10. Every little bit helps
    (Source: Tanya Basu, Technology Review (July 15, 2020))

I think it makes sense. Maybe because number eight is like my ‘my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts’ quip.


Grant Hamilton's 'Cross of Gold' cartoon, printed in Judge magazine. (1896)There’s a political angle to many discussions of COVID-19. Most discussions, maybe.

That’s hardly surprising, since a presidential election’s coming up.

I said that I’m complying with Executive Order 20-81, so maybe I’d better explain.

I do not think Minnesota Governor Walz can do no wrong, or that all who oppose him are fascists.

I am not complying because I fear that Minnesota has fallen to Islamic jihadists, and want to placate my masters.

I will continue wearing a face mask when and where appropriate, and keeping my public jaunts to a minimum, because I think it’s a good idea.

I also think it’s required by law in my state. And that this is one of those happy occasions when what’s legal and what’s right are parallel.

More-or-less-related posts:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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