Masking Forward. And the Risk of Denial.


Financial markets reacted sharply today with a sell off as news surfaced of a pickup in new cases of Covid-19 infections and the dampening impact it may have in the reopening of the economy.

I think it is an overreaction.

The greater incidence of new cases may well reflect enhanced testing capacity. The trend on the number of deaths continues to be downward. Furthermore, we know more about the illness and are better prepared.

That said, a real increase in infections may be at work, and the reopening of the economy a factor.

Still, I favor the continued and gradual reopening so long as it is done cautiously.

There is no reason for example, for dispensing with the protection of masks. We need only turn to the example of Japan – South Korea also – for a salutary reminder.

The pandemic continues to rage through the world but, as of this writing, the number of deaths in Japan does not even reach 1000. By contrast we have nearly 114 thousand here at home. Much of the difference can be ascribed to cultural differences, i.e. the Japanese custom of bowing to greet instead of shaking hands, and their long standing acceptance of mask wearing.

There can be a continued reopening of all sectors of the economy while maintaining the basic triad of prevention – mask wearing – social distancing – frequent disinfecting.

But it appears that sectors of our population are choosing to ignore such measures.

To not follow them is an instance of massive denial.

I fault principally our current leadership for not setting a clear example of what should be done.

It was an act of grand denial to begin with, for us to have reacted slowly to the arrival of the virus. And here we are again repeating the same behavior.

Denial is an enormously destructive force.

I see its effects every day in the field of mental health, where I work. Patients with severe illnesses get well from the taking of meds, then once they feel recovered, they stop taking them and promptly get sick again. You’d think that since it happened once, that would be enough to learn the lesson. But no, they make the same mistake a second, third, fourth or fifth time, with the cumulative effects having serious consequences.  

Reason seems difficult to accept.

And so it appears to be with Covid-19.

In the absence of leaders who prefer not to set an example for the nation by wearing a mask, we are on our own.

Good luck.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’. Available on Amazon.

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