Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fauci & face masks February 17, 2021

I APPRECIATE DR. ANTHONY FAUCI. He’s been a strong, calm, unwavering source of factual information about COVID-19 since the pandemic began. I trust him. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he speaks as a scientist, and also as an individual and official who cares deeply about others. He speaks truth, with no interest in self-glory. He never compromised, even in the face of public criticism from the highest powers.

Now he’s been named a recipient of the 2021 Dan David Prize for his contributions to health and medicine. The accolades and accompanying $1 million prize money are well-deserved. In noting his accomplishments, the Israeli-headquartered foundation cited Fauci’s global work in infectious diseases. HIV. Ebola. Zika. COVID-19. That’s an impressive list of professional credits.

Fauci impresses me as a man of incredible character. Or, as the awardees stated, “speaking truth to power.”

When I consider this scientist and all he’s done for the health and well-being of not only Americans, but also the global world, I consider how his expertise is still dismissed by some. Too many really. Just recently I walked away from a conversation in which the value of wearing face masks was questioned. Dr. Fauci’s name was mentioned. Although I voiced my disagreement, I realized it held no weight to these individuals. So I walked away.

I photographed this sign on a business in Crosby. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

I am walking away more and more these days from people. Generally not people in conversation, because I’m seldom around anyone long enough to carry on a conversation. But walking away from people in public places who refuse to either wear face masks or who do not wear them over their mouths and noses. Those numbers are increasing, and I just do not get it. Walk into any grocery store in Faribault and you’ll see them—the non-maskers, the half-maskers. Even some cashiers are half-maskers and, when I see that, I call them out. I figure they owe it to customers to protect and respect them if they want their business.

We have a mask mandate in Minnesota requiring those ages six and over to wear face masks in public places. Children ages two to five are strongly encouraged to also wear masks. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2020.

When I pick up the local daily newspaper, I see photos of people grouped together, unmasked. And when I turn to the sports page, photo upon photo upon photo shows half-masked athletes. It’s disheartening. Disappointing. I am weary, too, of the political rhetoric over mask mandates.

The reason the Rare Pair in Northfield gives for wearing face masks. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo summer 2020.

I want people to do the right thing. Just wear a face mask and wear it correctly. Or, as my nearly 5-year-old granddaughter told her little friend recently, “It goes over your nose and mouth!” And, yes, she wears a face mask as does her little brother, who just turned two. If preschoolers can mask properly, so can adults.

For the 15 minutes or half hour or hour adults are grocery shopping or whatever in public, they can wear a mask and wear it correctly. Hanging around your neck doesn’t count. Nor does wearing a plastic shield without a mask meet CDC guidelines. The CDC now recommends double masking for added protection. I don’t know what it will take for people to understand the importance of mask-wearing. A locally-targeted marketing campaign. Public service announcements. My granddaughter accompanying me to the grocery stores in Faribault with her masking message.

Masking, and masking correctly, is about keeping all of us healthy and safe. Me. You. Your friends and neighbors and loved ones. Strangers. My granddaughter. And it’s about common sense and believing scientists, like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

FYI: Click here to read specifics on Minnesota’s mask mandate.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Fauci & face masks”

  1. Norma Says:

    Audrey, I so agree with you concerning Dr. Fauci and his knowledge. I’m also so proud that the parents of your grandchildren are teaching our babies how important the mask is. I wish I could get to see them, and know them better.

  2. Dr. Fauci is awesome! 🙂

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    Thank you for alerting me to this honor for Dr. Fauci. I’m glad he hasn’t retired. 😉

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    The internet says he is 80 years old!

  5. The mask issue (proper wear in public) is an issue here too! I did my first train ride in since March 2020 this week (believe me I wouldn’t if I could have avoided) and witnessed several improperly masked people. I wore my N95 (I have a very limited number of those) b/c the UK variant is so rampant here now 2/3rds of all new cases. But, I saw the gal with mask on but on her neck, the young man that had his under his nose and was so dirty that who knows what other diseases it carried, and the one ear sling, no clue how that helps anyone! Sigh… thank the universe for great scientists but if no one listens how will we ever get past this pandemic?

    • Paula, I’m so sorry you are experiencing the same masking issues in the Netherlands. But this does not surprise me. Your final question is valid and ought to be considered by everyone. Yes, how will we ever get past this pandemic if people do not follow basic preventative measures?

  6. Charles P Ziegler Says:

    It seems to me that many of the unmasked make this a matter of “freedom,” failing, however, to understand that true freedom can exist only in the context of responsibility.

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