Troubleshooting Masks: Let’s Talk About COVID

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Alexa Di Palermo, Staff Writer |

This past year and a half since the pandemic started has been stressful and draining for all of us. I can say, personally, I feel as though it will never end. I’m tired of it. But this past Wednesday, Sep. 16th, I met with the Student Association, Rebecca Harrington, and many others who have been feeling the same way.

The event was hosted by Rebecca Harrington along with VP of Central Affairs, Emma Sutkin, Chair of Health and Wellness, Aolat Salami, and Chief of Staff, Rachel Dobkin, of the Student Association. Harrington spoke to the audience about not only the bad parts of wearing masks, but the joyful, funny, relatable, or even informational parts, as well.

To begin, we chatted about facts from mask math to CO2. Rebecca talked about her theory as to why people cannot breathe out of masks- anxiety. It makes sense: people had to go from living a completely normal life, to wearing masks on their faces to contain the spread of COVID. The shift in normality caused many people anxiety, which could have been a key cause of the abnormal breathing in masks.

We then shifted to talking about the Social Engagement System (SES). We talked about human reactions to triggering events, and what shifting through the stages can be like. It could be easier for someone to get more and more anxious, but it is harder for someone to calm down and fall back down to that original, calm, or “normal” stage. With COVID-19 guidelines constantly changing and the new Delta Variant spreading, sometimes it feels impossible to kick back and calm down.

But now, with our “normal” being different than it was, we have more things to relate to one another with. Mask problems… although they can be joyful or annoying, they can also be comedic. Harrington came up with terms for daily occurrences with masks. For example, a “Mooger” is when you sneeze in your mask. Or a very common one for in between classes, a “Mascation.” This is the term she uses to refer to giving yourself a mask break, which can be very important after many hours of being masked.

COVID-19 has been a hard thing for everyone. But now, sadly, it is our new normal. It is important to continue being vigilant. Although it is not always fun to wear masks, Harrington gave me a new perspective on mask-wearing. But still, many people struggle with the idea of mask-wearing and living in a pandemic.

When I was able to have a chance to speak to Harrington, she said, “it’s important that we are in this together, and we have each other’s back.” Reaching out for help during these troubling times helped her. “We need to let out our emotions sometimes”, she continued. If you need to talk to someone, feel free to reach out to the counseling center at 607-436-3368.

“We have a good family here at SUNY Oneonta,” said Harrington. I can say, I agree. We can live comfortably in our new world!

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