Mask or no mask? Here's what people in Fargo think
Officials continue to call for things like masks and social distancing to thwart the spread of coronavirus, but individual takes on mask wearing vary widely.
FARGO — Greta Gramig was not wearing a mask as she walked down a sunny sidewalk in downtown Fargo Wednesday afternoon, May 6, but when she stopped to chat with a stranger the mask came out.
"I don't have any problem with wearing masks. I don't know what the issue is with people," Gramig said, adding: "What's the big deal? Wear the mask. It protects other people."
Gramig, who lives in Fargo, said she has been making masks herself, including the one she was wearing.
"I've been making them to give away and to sell. So, I'm down with the masks," she said.
As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, the question of mask or no mask seems to polarize people into one camp or the other.
Fargo-Moorhead area officials who spoke at a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday stressed the continued importance of following health guidelines that include social distancing and the wearing of masks to slow the spread of the disease.
Desi Fleming, director of Fargo Cass Public Health, said she wears a mask to protect people like her parents and others who for one reason or another are at advanced risk from COVID-19 complications.
Addressing those watching the briefing online, Fleming added: "When I go into a grocery store, I wear a mask for you."
Kyle Jaeger was walking in downtown Fargo Wednesday afternoon without a mask and when he stopped to talk, no mask came out.
"I think you touch your face more with the mask. As long as you're staying six feet apart, I think you're OK," said Jaeger, who lives in Fargo.
He added it is his observation that many who wear masks are not careful about how they handle them, leading to possible infection if they handle the masks incorrectly and then touch their face.
Reid Hawkins was walking his puppy in Fargo Wednesday without a mask, but he said he puts one on when he finds himself in a situation where social distancing may not be easy to maintain.
Hawkins lives in Fargo but he is originally from New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19. His parents still live there, and he said one of his parents came down with the illness and has recovered.
Come next week, Hawkins said he will be going back to work as a bartender at Fargo's Beer & Fish Company. He said he appreciates how that business has navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
"The owners are great people, they've been great helping us out through this," Hawkins said as he prepared to resume his walk with his dog, Ella.
Nicole McKenna and a friend were among those strolling downtown Fargo Wednesday.
They were not wearing masks.
"I just think people didn't wear them for such a long time, what's the difference going to be if we all wear them now?" McKenna said.
For Gramig, wearing a mask is about keeping those around her safe.
She said she for sure tries to wear one when interacting "with someone who is putting their life on the line to serve me: the store, the post office."
Gramig said she has been going to physical therapy since the virus threat arose and she's aware of the dangers such workers face.
"Those people are taking a risk, they're exposing themselves. So, whatever you can do to cut down on the risk — even if it's not perfect — why not do it?" Gramig said.