**Moments after I finished this post today, the Ontario premier issued a mandatory mask order for the entire province.  (I didn’t think there were any regions without one, but I guess we will find out?)

Just some thoughts about masks — then, now, ahead …

I live in a region that has stayed relatively low in risk and cases of the Covid-19 virus so far.  I was a bit surprised that the mask order came for my city before July was through.  Some of the rationale from local health and elected officials included that it would be proactive and help normalize mask wearing before a second wave and the flu season.  There was also the suggestion that it was a good idea given more business openings in Ontario’s Stage 3.  I think there is also hope that mask wearing will reduce or prevent future lockdowns.  It was also done in respect to schools opening in Sept. and to help the reopening proceed for schools.

As October begins, NW Ontario covid-19 cases still remain low.  Mask orders are across the region now, with the Kenora area’s order in effect since the middle of August (regions in Manitoba just started issuing orders in Sept.).  It might be difficult to know for sure how preventative mask wearing has been.  In the spring, we were not advised to wear them.  Here in the north, we got through the “first wave” without a crisis, but it was very scary for a long time for many.  I still wondered about the “buy-in” for masks in our region though, but it seems generally supported now.  The “civilian mask wars” on social media were a bit too much, I thought, and I avoided participating in those “discussions” that started up in the summer.

I am sure mask wearing will be a thing for quite some time ahead — or at least until next spring?  I know this is a good thing to do and something we can do.  I also think it is okay to let someone vent about the discomfort of wearing one without, “Would you rather wear a ventilator?” kind of response.  Not everyone can wear one in temperature controlled settings and some have to wear them for many hours.  Even the local health unit and a mental health service provider advised us to be kind and not question why someone might not be wearing one.

I think I have a good system now for wearing a medical, disposable one or a cloth one, depending on what I am doing.  I still do worry about the volume of the single use ones and where they will end up.  I still get concerned if people are not cleaning and wearing them properly.  And, instead of wearing a mask when one can’t distance, it often seems like some are not distancing as much because they were wearing a mask.  I am not sure if we have to worry about a shortage of masks ahead.  Production of cloth ones have been taken up by many businesses, companies and individuals.  I am still surprised that they have become used to promote businesses, organizations and products!  Maybe I should have seen that coming.

There is so much that we didn’t see coming since the pandemic started.  I hope we can get through this pandemic soon and celebrate the day that all things covid-19 and masks are “behind us”, if they really can be at some point in time!  Staying hopeful.