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Guest Column: Please remember to wear a face covering when out in public spaces

On Saturday and previous weekends, I take a few drives around the village to observe the activity down the street and other areas of the village. This Saturday was disheartening with the number of individuals walking the narrow sidewalks and congregating without face masks or shields.

Newsday published a story on May 1 titled “Hit the road: Check out LI scenic places to drive.” When I finished reading it, I visualized what the Village of Greenport could and did look this Saturday. The amount of activity was as if we were in the month of July. The most disturbing observations were of various age groups without masks or some form of covering.

I can relate to the cabin fever syndrome, the isolation that some have felt and the yearnings to have our freedom of movement return to some sense of normal. A familiar phrase is “it takes a village,” but in this pandemic it will take all of us in Suffolk County to not be the “hot spot” for a resurgence of this coronavirus.

On a personal note: I am in the high risk group for COVID-19 having experienced pneumonia twice in my book of life. So the debate about whether to wear or not wear a mask in public has me asking these questions. In walking the sidewalks on Main and Front Street — Can anyone walk a safe six feet apart? Grocery stores are requiring face coverings for this reason as they cannot maintain the distance between customers. Some of our sidewalks in the village are no wider than the aisles in Greenport IGA.

What is the purpose of the mask? It is taking responsibility for the unknown question of whether you have the coronavirus and for you to take a small discomfort and responsibility to prevent exposure to others.

Why the resistance to wearing a mask in public? Not wanting to be told what to do seems to be in the forefront of comments. And there are political reasons. But there will be plenty of time when we reopen for those discussion. Is the news that the number of hospitalizations is decreasing setting the tone that we can relax a bit?

The last question: Are we showing disrespect to the health care professionals, volunteer EMT’s and essential workers by not wearing a mask in public? Our village and East End community has stepped up to acknowledge these people have been on the front line of this COVID-19 pandemic.

They have observed the virus in ways we as the general public read in the news or conversations. They are treating the patients, working the essential services that we are all thankful to be open, even with concerns that they will be exposing their families.

In closing, let me use an expression of war: the red bad of courage. Perhaps in this pandemic wearing a mask is the badge of showing respect to each other.

Mary Bess Phillips is a Greenport Village Trustee.