Out Actor, 'Schitt's Creek' Creator: Wearing a Mask During Pandemic A 'Kindness'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday May 26, 2020

Out actor Dan Levy - son of comic Eugene Levy and co-creator of the acclaimed comedy "Schitt's Creek" - offered some perspective on wearing a face mask as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage.

Face masks can, in close quarters, help people avoid contracting COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that can cause respiratory illness and - in about one out of six cases - require hospitalization or even cause death. Perhaps more importantly, wearing a face mask can help avoid spreading virus-bearing droplets of moisture that can infect other people. Since people with the virus can be contagious for days or even weeks without feeling sick, wearing a mask even when you're feeling healthy is recommended when you're out in public.

However, some Americans - reportedly prompted by conservative organizations that have engineered Tea Party-like protests against social distancing and other scientifically sound measures to help prevent the spread of the disease - have politicized the virus, insisting that being told to stay home and wear a mask in public is an infringement on their Constitutional rights.

Levy, a Canadian, sought to have some "re-contextualization" to the issue, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Levy took to Instagram to offer his thoughts, musing in a post:

"I suppose, in a way, I can understand the frustration of being told what to do, which is why I would like to propose a re-contextualization of this whole thing."

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Levy went on to explain further:

"Imagine seeing it not as an infringement on your freedom, but rather the simplest, easiest act of kindness that you can do in a day. Not just for yourself, but for other people."

Levy pointed out that people with underlying medical conditions - such as heart disease, diabetes, or who might be living with cancer and undergoing immune system-suppressing treatments - can be hard hit by the disease.

Scientists do not yet fully understand the virus, and young, seemingly healthy people have also become seriously ill. In some cases, the virus seems to cause blood clotting that can lead to death or amputation of limbs. Children, initially thought not to be affected by the virus (or at least not as severely affected as adults), can suffer a reaction described as akin to toxic shock that can cause organ failure and death.

Levy's post was greeted with a flood of negative responses, many of which claimed that wearing masks is worse than the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 due to people breathing their own carbon dioxide. Some of those posts claimed that only an N-95 type mask - the sort used by medical health professionals in hospital settings - are effective against the virus.

Those assertions were made, however, without reference to any scientific articles or studies.

According to Health.com, most people would not suffer any ill effects from wearing a mask:

The N95 might be uncomfortable and restrictive to the point where it affects your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels...but you really shouldn't be wearing that anyway. As for cloth face coverings (either store-bought or homemade), there's even less of a chance of breathing issues, and it's definitely not an excuse for going out without one. Make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth but feels loose, rather than so tight you really can't breathe. If you continue to feel like your airways are cut off, consider other possible causes, such as a panic attack, which can trigger sudden feelings of suffocation and breathlessness.

The Mayo Clinic confirms that using a mask can be effective when it comes to avoiding contracting or spreading the virus, and notes that mask wearing is even more effective when combined with frequent hand washing, social distancing, and refraining from touching one's face (which can bring viral particles picked up by the fingertips into proximity to a person's mouth, nose, and eyes). Text at the Mayo Clinic website states:

Yes, face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the disease.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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