Amidst the torrent of vulgar language in "Top 10 Dick Moves of 2021" Jennifer Fumiko Cahill adds "pop-up anti-maskers" to her list of people "chipping away at the social contract." This made me think of Sweden, a country famous for its social contract. I spent three months in Sweden last year and rarely saw anyone wearing a mask. In fact, Sweden never mandated mask wearing. Interestingly, Sweden has suffered a significantly smaller percentage of COVID deaths than the United States, where mask mandates and mask wearing has been widespread. While the U.S. suffered 2,107 COVID deaths per 1 million people, as of Sept. 30, 2021, Sweden only suffered 1,444 COVID deaths per 1 million. Virtually no masks and yet fewer deaths.
I greatly enjoyed living mask-free in Sweden. Having implemented few lockdown measures, Sweden retained their social cohesion, with their people and economy suffering far less trauma. It was a relief to be in such a healthy environment.
Coming home was an unpleasant shock. I saw with fresh eyes the terrible state of our community. Many of the people I know have visibly deteriorated. I also see people with a crazed look in their eyes. Others are blank, withdrawn or fearful. Our people have been traumatized, our social cohesion unraveled and our economy decimated. The damage from the lockdown is immense. The contrast between Sweden and Humboldt is stark and bleak.
While a few cling to masking with religious zeal, it is clear that most of us are sick and tired of it. We deserve to live without the struggle to breathe and communicate. We can learn to live with the virus without destructive and inhumane policies. There is a better way.
Amy Gustin, Ettersburg