Texas Widow Makes Heartfelt Plea for Neighbors to Continue Wearing Masks in Wake of Governor’s Announcement

Woman wearing mask during COVID19 pandemic
Woman puts on mask during COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Here in Texas, everyone seems to be talking about face masks. That’s because on March 2, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increased capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. This change was announced even though just under seven percent of the state’s population had been fully vaccinated by that point, as KHOU 11 News reported.

Regarding the change, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated he fears another really big surge if we stop protective measures too soon. As he told MSNBC, “I would advise the people of Texas and Mississippi to just abide by the public health measures that we talk about all the time: Uniform wearing of masks, physical distancing, avoiding congregate settings, particularly indoors, washing your hands frequently, we just have to keep doing that because we know it works.”

Even President Joe Biden concurs and was prompted to call the decision “Neanderthal thinking,” saying that it was critical that Americans continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash their hands.

Understandably, this change doesn’t make sense to many, particularly since such a small percentage of Texas residents have been vaccinated. Still, according to the Texas Tribune, school boards, courts, and college campuses may continue to require masks, although local governments are left to decide on which side of the aisle they want to stand on. Other activities, such as prisoner visitation, has also resumed, and state park services are being expanded.

Here in North Texas, we’ve already seen some communities continue the mask requirement if citizens want to access city buildings, while neighboring towns are only making city employees wear masks while allowing citizens to go mask free if they choose.

All of this is a lot to absorb, and it is easy to see why people were stressing out over the change as it went into effect yesterday, March 10. While out running errands, I heard many comment that they intend to avoid businesses that don’t require their customers to mask up. Also, I observed workers struggle to maintain social distance between themselves and those without masks, particularly when customers got aggressive and said that the governor said they no longer have to wear their masks.

These scenarios reminded me of a post I came across earlier this week on Nextdoor which was written by one of my neighbors, Rosemary Herrel. Having recently lost her husband to COVID-19, she has very strong feelings about whether we should still wear masks or not. Here, she makes a plea to the community to continue masking, despite what politicians say. Her words are so heartfelt, logical, and effectively written, I asked her permission to share it here.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

A few weeks ago the love of my life, my hubby of 25 years passed away from COVID. The first thing people ask me is, “How did he catch it?” I am a retired nurse, so of course we followed every precaution of prevention. We wore masks, stayed home 99 percent of the time, washed and sanitized our hands until they cracked and bled.

If you don’t want to follow these preventions and stop wearing a mask and ignore these precautions let me tell you what you or one of your loved ones could be facing.

Day 1: Doctor says hospital visit of 5 days(that is how long “treatment” takes. There are no Vents or ICU rooms available so you are placed in a hallway in the ER.

Day 2: You are alone trying to communicate with your loved one on the other end, but they can’t get enough air in their lungs to speak, but you will stay on line and listen to their gasping so they can feel like they are not alone.

Day 3: You could get a call and if you listen really hard you might hear between gasps “I am not going to make it out of here…know how much I love you” and they cut off the phone.

Days 4-8: Loved one is put on a vent and diagnosed with COVID pneumonia. Blood clots are found in lungs and legs, oxygen needs can not be met, blood thinners for clots must be discontinued causing internal bleeding. Kidneys shut down and dialysis is started.

Day 9: Doctor calls and tells you there is nothing more they can do to make loved one better. Treatment needs to be discontinued but you think maybe one more day, just a couple more and things will turn around. You won’t want to make that decision.

Day 10: You get a call from nurse informing you loved one is “declining,” so get there (for the first time) as fast as you can. She says she is holding their hand and talking to them. They sneak you into the room to say goodbye. Tubes are removed and you will get to hold them and talk to them about your life together and how much you love them and how they will be missed… as the monitors go silent.

The previous six months in the Texas heat until two days before admission he was building me a She Shed. He was active, healthy and strong. He finished it, but never saw it decorated. So I ask you all, please don’t be so quick to throw off the masks!

Yesterday I received my first vaccine, I broke down in line thinking of how he should have been standing there with me, if only it could have happened sooner maybe I wouldn’t have to sit in my She Shed alone with a glass of wine remembering how much fun we had during quarantine building it together.

Wear your mask and look out for others. No one should ever experience COVID. It is very real. Don’t take the risks. Listen to the doctors, not the politicians!

My hubby took it for us both. Take care and stay safe. This is just my view. Everyone has one, so please don’t comment hateful rude comments. I would just hate that anyone has to go through this situation. Love and Hugs!

As written by Rosemary Herrel on Nextdoor [Content edited for punctuation.]

Rosemary told me that her husband, Lt. Col. (Ret. USAF) Timothy Joseph Herrel, was a vibrant man who always did everything in his power to help those in his community every way he could, which makes his loss even more significant. (You can read his full obituary on Dignity Memorial).

Thankfully, as D Magazine recently wrote, there are still plenty of businesses requiring masks, for which I am personally grateful. Still, I hope Texans will think before they unmask. Even if the statistics don’t convince you, hopefully Rosemary’s account will. COVID is nothing to mess with, and one unnecessary death is one death too many.

Stay safe and well,

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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