I work with Staying Put in New Canaan. Most of our members—and most of the older population in our town—have spent the last four months of this pandemic hunkered down in their homes, often isolated from family and friends, trying to protect themselves from becoming infected with the virus. For many, it has been a trying and lonely period. As the weather has improved and the incidence of the virus in our area has declined, I have encouraged our members to get out, while remembering to socially distance and wear a mask when that is not possible.
One of our members was on Elm Street this week. She was wearing a mask and passed a younger woman on the sidewalk. The younger woman—in her 30’s—was unmasked and our member asked her to please wear a mask, that not only does it protect the younger woman, but also protects her. The younger woman replied angrily, using profanity, that she didn’t care.
I find this incident profoundly disappointing on a number of different levels. First, what ever happened to common courtesy? Is this how we respond to a complete stranger, asking someone, politely, to wear a mask? Second, even if a person is willing to risk his or her own health, what gives that person the right to risk someone else’s? Lastly, wearing a mask—especially downtown—is something our first selectman and every public health professional in town has asked us to do. It is the right thing to do. Do it.
I never thought I would hear about an incident like this in our town. I implore people to try and think beyond themselves, to try and put themselves in the shoes of others who are older or have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Telling people to “just stay home” is unacceptable. Every resident has the right to move about our town safely. Please, New Canaan, we are better than this.
Nicola Holzberger, MPH
Director, Member Services
Staying Put in New Canaan