This past week, I had to make a trip to Georgia for business. The trip required a flight from Baltimore to Atlanta. Travelers must follow TSA and the FAA rules for safety, including masks in the airport and on planes.
Unfortunately, the wearing of masks became a political issue. It’s not. It’s a mask. The idea of the mask is to protect you and to protect others. Masks are an inexpensive tool to reduce the spread of the virus. Nothing else!
During this trip, I learned the difference in attitudes with different people in Baltimore and Georgia. While at BWI Airport, the less than the capacity crowd was very diligent with their masks. Very few people were leaving noses uncovered, and one person politely asked me to replace my mask after taking a sip from my water bottle. It was a sense of community caring, not punitive.
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was a different story. The number of people prevented moderate social distancing. Everyone packed into the transport trains, and the mask-wearing varied from covering the chin to uncovering the nose.
Arriving in Athens, Georgia, home of my alma mater, the University of Georgia, the scene was different. Walking the streets and the time I spent on campus, you can tell the difference between the students and everyone else. The students were wearing masks and keeping distances. Students working in local businesses were more diligent than the parents that were in town for commencements.
I had the opportunity to discuss the situation with some of the students. They relayed stories about how the students did not take the pandemic seriously until it spread on campus.
The problems are not with the students and those concerned about public health. The problems are with those who see masks as a conspiracy. Many numismatic dealers have indicated they are on the side of the conspiracy theorists.
The attitude of these dealers, mostly older and obstinant, can turn the re-opening of the hobby into a disaster.
The World’s Fair of Money will be limited to 300 tables to comply with Illinois Health Department rules. Currently, there has been no announcement regarding attendance limited. Given the attitudes of the anti-maskers, especially amongst the dealer population, I am afraid that the World’s Fair of Money will become a super spreader event.
You might want to question my assertion because of the presence of the vaccines. While the vaccines provide immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has plagued the United States for more than a year, combating the variants is uncertain. Research has shown that the vaccines will fight some of the variants, but not all of them.
As people travel, the variants will spread with the people that will carry them. The only way to prevent the variants from ruining the re-opening is to get serious about wearing masks.
Yes, wearing masks suck. As someone with allergy and respiratory issues, wearing a mask is very uncomfortable. During the workday, I will take my dog for a walk when I need to take off my mask. I know that for a year or two discomfort, we can re-open society and hold shows again.
We need to come together as a community and be leaders for the country. Numismatics has the chance to lead. By leading and acting as we care for one another, we can look like heroes to the rest of the world and possibly attract new members.
Care for your fellow numismatist and potential new numismatists. Wear a mask!
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