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Dear Editor,

I am a responsible person and will explain why I cannot wear a mask.

Being born an asthmatic and in the age group of mid-60s, I am highly vulnerable during this epidemic. My health is always my utmost concern, not just at this time. It is in my best interest to follow my physician's prescribed health regimen.

My body's autoimmune system is only as strong as the daily conditions in which I place myself. Many people are unaware that perfumes, body lotions, hair products and other scented items take my breath away to the point of needing prescription medication to open my airways. The proximity of others — be it at church, movie theaters, stores or any enclosed spaces — can endanger my ability to breathe. A mask reduces my airflow, so is not an option.

During this epidemic, I have only gone out when necessary, and I remain vigilant to my protective procedures.

These life tools were taught to me as a child to reduce my exposure because, unfortunately, too many people do not use them.

1) When sick, stay home, and never stand near anyone who appears ill. 2) Wash your hands often; avoid touching your face. 3) Use your sleeve or forearm to open and close a door. 4) Wipe the shopping cart handle before use. 5) Use knuckles to push buttons on keypads and elevator buttons. 6) Pull a shirt sleeve over your hand to hold a stylus to sign. 7) In a public restroom, use tissue to flush and open the stall door. 8) Soap your hands before turning on the water, and use a towel to shut it off and exit the bathroom. 9) Use hand sanitizer after touching a menu or go wash your hands. 10) Do not share drinks or eat after another person.

Shirl Smith


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