Column: 'We have a moral responsibility'

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose / Hearst Connecticut Media

The closest I’ve ever been to being “in style” was donning leg warmers back when they were trendy.

Their popularity grew in part due to the influence of films like “Fame” and “Flashdance.” I didn’t keep mine around long, though.

I prefer the more classic fashion styles of the past — knee length A-line dresses (minus the puffed shoulders) of the 1940s, the slim and sheath dresses of the 1950s, the sophisticated, clean and simple outfits and sensible heels worn by Jacky O in the 1960s and the Polyester jumpsuit, bell bottom jeans and vintage tops of the 1970s.

In recent months, while living through the coronavirus pandemic, many folks have made adjustments to their wardrobes. Some folks are working from home with unbrushed hair while wearing lounge pants.

There is one accessory we all can — and I believe, should — incorporate into our wardrobe moving forward: the face mask.

(I do recognize face masks pose a challenge for those with certain impairments.)

Bear with me; face masks can be fashionable. Consider the number of homemade, customized masks residents have made and are giving away and some businesses are selling.

At first masks were hard to get, so people began making them. Thanks to my aunt Lisa’s stellar sewing skills, she made masks for multiple family members. Masks, many of them tailored to an individual’s liking, are adjustable to fit comfortably over the ears and face.

My daughter Eleanor describes the masks as, like the clothes we wear, an expression of ourselves. Hers are cool marble and floral patterns, while mine reflect my taste in pattern and color.

Masks have been part of our lives since March when the U.S. first clamped down on travel, and stay-at-home and social distancing orders were put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

I have been and continue to do my part to protect myself and others by wearing a mask when I must go out.

An individual can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, thus the importance of everyone, not only some people, wearing the latest accessory while out in public.

With limited access to testing for everyone and no long-term plan for contact tracing for all Americans as of yet, we cannot be 100 percent sure who has been, or is, infected.

That’s why I was disappointed with the images from Memorial Day weekend of our fellow Americans who attended pool parties and other social events, going about daily life — without social distancing and masks — as if if the last two and a half months never happened.

Reality check: the virus has not been eradicated. It does not discriminate. No one is immune.

Studies have shown droplets from a person who carries the virus can even travel farther than the recommended six-foot distance for social distancing.

As one of the millions of individuals who has as underlying medical condition with a compromised immune system, I am in the high-risk category, so I must — like all those who suffer from ailments such as psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s and more — make smart decisions and be proactive to protect myself.

It’s what I wish everyone would do, not just to protect themselves, but to protect their loved ones, friends, neighbors and folks like myself.

Many people argue having to wear a face covering is inconvenient and uncomfortable and can lead to excess sweat, especially as the temperatures rise. Some even say it violates their freedom; they can’t be told what to do.

This is not a political issue. This is a health crisis. For the entire globe and all of humanity.

Wearing a mask seems a small price to pay when we consider the big picture: 1.8 million people have been infected in the U.S., and 105,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, as of Sunday. We don’t know how many more will in the coming months.

It is careless to shrug aside the facts that blatantly stare us in the face.

While masks may not provide full protection, wearing one is a reasonable, responsible proactive step we can take to show respect for one another.

It is our moral responsibility as a human being to ask ourselves this question when we look in the mirror: do we want to bear the guilt of knowing we could possibly infect another human being and potentially cause their death because we chose not to wear a mask?

I don’t.

Like the fashion trends of yesteryear, the face mask as an accessory of 2020 will eventually disappear, although I suspect it will be part of our lives off and on as the world faces the threat of other viruses in the future.

For now, the face mask is here for the foreseeable future. Call it the latest fashion trend.

Are you on board?

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at