Mask on, mask off | Opinion

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After many months of wearing a mask wherever I went, the all-clear siren blasted and allowed me to remove my mask. Hallelujah — freedom again!

But not for long. Recently, the warning bell sounded; the pandemic was back. Mask on? Mask off.

Confusion abounds. Wear your mask inside, but perhaps you can take it off when you are outside.

Remember to cover your face when you’re in a crowd. But what constitutes a crowd? Is it 10 people, 500 people?

And be careful to keep 6 feet away from others whenever you are in public places. But how far is 6 feet? I’ve never walked around with a ruler. But with the emergence of the uber contagious Delta virus, I will tuck one into my purse wherever I go.

But what kind of face-covering is best? There are the paper ones you discard after each wearing. A friend told me that the N95 are best to keep the germs away, but you need to remember to wash them often. Paper ones you can toss after one wearing.

There is good news — and not so good news — about wearing a mask, of any kind. If I forget to put on lipstick, no one would ever know. But with lipstick on, it smears all over. So when I remove the mask it looks like I just had an exciting smooching session!

Experts tell us it’s far better to dine out of doors. But if you dine outside as suggested, you will faint from the summer heat. While eating indoors is certainly cooler, you need to decide which is more important — hunger or safety?

Cook at home. More often. It’s safer and healthier, even less expensive. Oh, please. That debate is not even a question for those of us in our senior years. That ship sailed a long time ago.

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But if we do prepare dinner at home, we need to be in the supermarket more often. But then we’re spending more time in a crowded store, right? Not a good idea.

Anxiety has returned, full tilt. Day in and day out, I second guess whatever I do. And the slightest sneeze or cough makes me wonder whether I’ve contracted COVID-19 – or whether I forgot to dust the furniture in my home this week.

I struggle with decision fatigue. Months ago I planned a cruise for December. Who would have believed the pandemic would return with a vengeance? But it has — and that ship will sail without me.

The good news about wearing a mask is that I don’t have to say hello to someone I really don’t care about but always felt obligated to do so before. Actually, now I can pretend not to recognize them. (OK, so I’m not a perfect person.)

As we approach the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sept. 6) I wonder if we will pray inside the synagogue or once again on Zoom. Either way, I pray for Jews — and everyone around the world — to be blessed with good health in the coming year: 5782 on the Jewish calendar.

Bea Lewis is a journalist, author and public speaker who lives in Boynton Beach.

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