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In Case of Close Encounter

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 18:54


By day, most people out and about now seem to be wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To them, we say thank you. But by night, it is a different story: As the sun goes down, so, too, do the masks — as well as inhibitions about airing anti-mask sentiments.

A recent encounter on Sag Harbor’s Main Street tells the tale. Two women walking along the sidewalk in masks about 9 p.m. were accosted by a youngish man without a mask, who, obviously in his cups, decided that it was important to ask them a question: “Why are you wearing a mask?” The hasty, mumbled answer, which he apparently did not care for, set off a stream of profanity.

Sag Harbor drunks are one thing; heavy-breathing joggers and slick-suited bicyclists are another. Although the experts say the risk of outdoor transmission of the virus is reduced — in comparison with indoor transmission — it is not zero, and it strikes many of us as thoughtless in the extreme that some people choose to exercise on highly trafficked public thoroughfares without, in some cases, even carrying a mask in case of a close encounter.

Too little is known definitively about Covid-19 to say for sure that outdoor exercise presents no danger of making someone else sick. Certainly, joggers and cyclists huffing and puffing right up the middle of the sidewalks of the business district must inevitably leave a trail of those infamous droplets in their wake, and it only seems right that they carry a mask with them and slip it on when a pedestrian heaves into view.

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