Why I wear a face cover: Huntsville residents share their stories

single-meta-cal May 22, 2020

If there was a small chance you could help prevent someone else from getting sick, would you do it?

What if that meant wearing a simple face cover as an extra barrier of protection for you, your family, friends and strangers?

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to cover up when you head out. This small act of kindness – along with social distancing and regular hand washing – will help us beat back the spread of COVID-19, especially among our most vulnerable population.

RELATED: How to make a cloth face covering during COVID-19

Despite recommendations from health leaders at the Alabama Department of Public Health and CDC, some people are still hesitant to wear a face covering.

We reached out to several Huntsville residents about why they’re wearing a face cover. If you’re still not convinced you should wear one, read their stories below.


Autumn Nelson

Communications Coordinator at Downtown Huntsville, Inc.

When COVID-19 first hit the U.S., I did everything I could do to keep my distance from others. You see, I wasn’t necessarily worried about myself getting sick. I’m a 29-year-old with no preexisting conditions (that I know of), and I was certain I could make it through if I got sick with COVID-19. My dad, however, was another story. At the time, he was a 72-year-old lung cancer survivor. He checked all the boxes of someone who was certain to have complications if he contracted the virus.

Autumn Nelson

Autumn Nelson (Courtesy photo)

Then just two weeks ago, doctors found two brain tumors that had been there for a while. He has gone through surgery and is recovering well, but this new development just makes it even more important for him to stay healthy through all of this. Now it’s so important that everyone he comes in contact with either stays 6 feet (or more) away from him or wears a mask to protect him.

Here’s the thing about my decision to wear a mask – I know it isn’t doing much to protect me from getting sick. I wear a mask because I know there is a chance that I could be infected with the virus without showing symptoms and then pass it to someone else. I wear a mask because I may come in contact with someone who is more susceptible to health complications while picking up my to-go order from Sam and Greg’s. I wear a mask because there are essential workers at the grocery store who currently don’t have the option to stay home and socially distance from others.

Yes, it’s hot and uncomfortable. Yes, it’s annoying to put on before going anywhere, but I still wear a mask to protect you and your family. Will you wear one to protect me and my family?

Sarah Napier Bailey

Owner of Acorn Treasures

I forgot my mask for work on Tuesday. I realized my mistake while I served my third customer. As I walked toward her car, I saw her put on a mask. I offered to place her purchase in her trunk. I listened carefully to understand her response with her mouth being covered by her mask and the traffic noise from the street. Fortunately, she motioned and the trunk opened. Her response was obvious despite not hearing her or seeing her lips move.

My thoughts immediately moved on to the remainder of my shift. The shift is short, and I am almost halfway through it. Maybe I won’t have many more customers pick up orders, and I don’t have sidewalk appointments scheduled. I should have remembered to bring a mask. How irresponsible!

I want my customers and their young families to be safe while picking up curbside orders, so it is crucial that I wear a mask. I immediately scheduled new timers on my phone in hopes to remind myself to bring a mask to work and to put on a mask as I plug in the neon OPEN sign at the beginning of curbside hours.

Sarah Napier Bailey

Sarah Napier Bailey (Courtesy photo)

Wearing a mask had never crossed my mind until March. I was taking an order via telephone from a customer who happens to be a nurse just before the mandatory shutdown. She was delighted that I was open, and she thoughtfully urged me to wear a mask in the store while customers shopped to protect myself. I shared I had already transitioned to curbside service.

Since this first mention of a mask, I’ve learned a lot about why we wear masks, and it’s not just about me. It’s about respect for the health of others.

In the past two months, as a mom, I became the primary educator for my children. As an adult, I’ve adjusted how and when my family shops for groceries, meal plans and more. As a small business owner, I implemented an entirely new business model overnight. I adjusted my store hours and my work hours. I am planning to accommodate social distancing in a 500-square-foot storefront.

Effort is going into wearing a mask because I care deeply about babies, children, parents, families, healthcare workers and my community. Wearing a mask seems so simple, but it may be the most challenging yet most important change I make in 2020.

Andrew Judge

Owner of Sugar Belle

Right now, I’m wearing a mask because the state health department told me to do so. But I’d wear one regardless. It’s a little uncomfortable as temperatures in the South start to rise (there’s money in a cooling face mask during these unusual times, I’m telling you), but I’m sticking with it.

Our whole staff is too; not because I’m making them, but so they can protect each other. So they can protect me, with a heart rhythm problem. So we can protect some of our staff with autoimmune disorders. So we can all protect our customers and our loved ones at risk. So we can take the best precautions we know of while a virus we’re still learning about creeps and clings around our world like a fog.

Andrew Judge

Andrew Judge (Courtesy photo)

I know that it’s frustrating for some – being asked to do what some of our leaders aren’t doing themselves in photos or on TV, and after some confusion early on from experts on whether or not covering your face is helpful. And it’s uniquely American (and even more Southern) to challenge authority when presented with anything different or required of us, or something we find uncomfortable. But we want to get back to normal as soon as possible, as a business and in our personal lives.

So please, when you’re out shopping or in a crowded space, would you mind covering your face? For that 10 minute trip to the coffee shop? Because I want to stay safe, healthy and for things to return to normal as soon as possible. Because I could wind up unknowingly serving you food while asymptomatic, and you’d want to be protected, too.

I’ve heard the phrase “we’re all in this together” a lot in the past few months, and I don’t think there’s a better way to demonstrate that than this. If we’re really thinking of each other and not just ourselves, covering your face is like wearing a badge showing others that you’re selfless. That you care about your family, your friends and your community.

Kristen Goode

Senior Marketing Specialist

Yes ma’am. No sir. Please and thank you.

Like most kids born and raised in Madison County, I was taught manners from an early age. My parents, grandparents and other authority figures taught me manners weren’t just polite – manners are my moral obligation.

Kristen Goode

Kristen Goode (Courtesy photo)

As an adult, I value the lessons, as painful as the lessons may have been, because we live in a me-centered world.

Do what makes you happy. Don’t infringe on my rights. Why should I care? Me. Me. Me. That’s a problem, because one fundamental truth of society is We > Me.

I wear a face mask anytime I’m in public because your short- and long-term health is more important than my temporary discomfort.

You see, there are no risks for me when I wear a mask. Healthcare workers have been wearing masks for entire shifts, for decades, without incident. And there’s a very real chance I could spread COVID-19 to others while feeling fine. A modern-day Typhoid Mary, if you will.

When I wear a face mask, I protect everyone I come in contact with from contracting COVID-19.

When you wear a face mask, you protect others from contracting COVID-19.

Wear a mask. It’s the polite thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.

Annie Phillips

Branch Manager of Eleanor E. Murphy Branch Library

As Americans, I think some of the aversion to the idea of masks is rooted in the original meaning of the word itself. It most likely came from the Medieval Latin word “masca” meaning witch or specter, mixed also with the Arabic “mascara,” meaning buffoon. Well, who among us wants to be seen as scary, or ridiculous? That’s only for Halloween. We are an open, friendly people! We hide nothing. We like to smile – in fact, that’s our calling card in other countries! For many, covering our expressions is anathema to our cultural identity.

Annie Phillips

Annie Phillips (Courtesy photo)

But sometimes being true to ourselves has to find a happy medium with being our neighbor’s keeper, and we are so good at that already in so many ways. We volunteer time and talents and aim high when we hit obstacles. We’ve got scientists racing to test vaccines and cures for COVID-19.

But it’s also the many little, less exciting things that get us through together each day. Washing hands, covering sneezes. It’s not glamorous. I hope most of us don’t even think twice about it. That’s why I wear my mask. I’m a librarian and the first sentence of our mission is, “This is the public’s library.” I do it because I care about everyone around me, and their well-being.

Whether I know them or not, they are part of my community, and I am part of theirs. My fellow librarians and I want to continue to serve all of our community safely in the place that we love. I’m not a researcher or healthcare worker. I can’t find a vaccine or heal someone. But I can do this, and so can you. Let’s do it for each other.

William Hampton

Founder of Huntsville Revisited
William Hampton

William Hampton (Courtesy photo)

I wear a mask because I trust what health officials have instructed us to do.

I was raised to consider others, and to be mindful of how my actions might affect them.

By wearing a mask, I am taking necessary precaution to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It also reduces the risk of me catching it from someone else.