Wednesday, July 28

«I am not taking off my mask. I feel naked »




The last time Sara García went out without a mask was on March 12, 2020. She remembers it perfectly. Two days before the state of alarm was decreed and with the virus already advancing uncontrollably through our country. He left his home in Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) to go to the hospital to have some tests done and already at that moment she felt nervous, unprotected, despite the fact that at that time the mask was still unknown in our society. Now, when you think about that occasion, the tension continues. “I remember him nervously from being in a hospital without her. But since there was already talk of the virus there, I was already moderately concerned, I tried to get away from people and washed my hands continuously, “she explains.

Sara, 32, is one of those people who the mask will not be removed from next Saturday,
date that the Government has established to end its obligation in the open air. In her case, she does it out of fear, to such an extent that she does not dare to take it down on the street or when she is alone. «I am very afraid of the virus. I take it very badly and taking off my mask is an ordeal for me », the Mint. And that fear turns into anxiety when she is forced to remove it: «The other day I went to a clinic and I had to take it off. I felt naked, in danger.

He hopes his fears will disappear when all members of his family – including his five-year-old son – are vaccinated, although for that, he believes, there is still time. What you are facing now is to meet people who do not carry it. «I am afraid of crossing people without her. I’m going to feel insecure », He says. For her, in addition, it is not how to wear it, especially with the high temperatures, but she says she cannot do anything to remedy it: “If I could take it off, I would take it off. But psychologically I’m not ready.

Judged for not wearing it

To this sensation, in addition, another is added: that of being judged for continuing to wear it. “Most people do not understand my situation because they lead a practically normal life,” explains this hairdresser, currently unemployed. You have become used to the people you talk to being surprised when the topic of conversation drifts into the current situation and she shows her refusal to take off the mask. What she does not understand, on the other hand, is how there are people who seem not to be aware of the dramatic end that can be infected with the virus. «I don’t understand it, it doesn’t fit in my head. There are those who seem to have not experienced anything, ”he criticizes.

Marta Muñoz
Marta Muñoz – Guillermo Navarro

But when previous pathologies are also added to the insecurity caused by being exposed to Covid-19, the decision not to discard this protection is reaffirmed. In this situation is Marta Muñoz Gaona, a 51-year-old neighbor of Alcobendas (Madrid). She is asthmatic and has been teleworking since the pandemic began, because where she feels safest is at home. Their outings to the street are always with the mask on and they will remain so until you consider that the danger of contracting the virus is negligible. “I think that at the moment the situation is not one of absolute control. Psychologically we are very tired by all the measures, but that does not have to contravene the fact that there is still a large population to be vaccinated, “he explains.

In her case, she is capable of taking it off outdoors when she is alone or with her family and always in isolated places, such as the mountains. But not for the city. “It doesn’t hurt that we keep wearing it for a while. I’m not going to take it off, “he says. Like her, many of the people who have asthma are not yet ready to stop using this protection on the streets. This is explained by Conxi Grau, president of the Association of Asthmatics of Madrid (Asmamadrid), who considers that it is still too early to get rid of the mask because the virus is still present. When the entire population is vaccinated, he reflects, the circumstances will be optimal to abandon it.

The fear of getting infected is one of the reasons why masks will continue to be seen in the streets as of next Saturday, but not the only one. They know it well in the Spanish Association for Mutual Aid against Social Phobia and Anxiety Disorders (Amtaes), where they are meeting members reluctant to abandon it because of the security it brings them. “Apparently, the reason is that they have found self-protection in the mask by wearing part of the hidden face,” they explain, and they assure that most are people who suffer from social phobia, so hiding behind the masks gives them something more be safe and less anxious. “These people, possibly, continue to wear it for some time making some excuse,” they say.

Sara García defines as
Sara García defines as “torture” having to remove the mask. She will continue to wear it, but assures that she will feel insecure seeing how the people she comes across do not wear her – G. Navarro

But having seen the worst part of the pandemic closely, the one that has been experienced in hospital beds, also raises the question of whether removing the mask is a good idea or if, on the contrary, it is still necessary. Agustín Vázquez is clear: he will not take it away. And to make the decision, his work as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid has been enough. “Since March of last year I have not seen patients other than Covid. I will continue to use the mask because what I have seen in this year or so cannot even be imagined », reports.

The feeling of not wearing it, he says, is one of lack of protection. “Once when I went down to the car to get something and I realized that I was not carrying it, it has been very uncomfortable. You feel like naked, “he says.

This 47-year-old nurse, also president of the Association of Nurse and Health Experts, is vaccinated, like the vast majority of health personnel. His parents are too, but this does not mean that he removes his mask when he visits them. When I’m at his house I wear it. And the same in other places like the cinema or bars ». Also outdoors, wherever, even on the beach. «In a few days, if everything goes well, I will go on vacation to the beach and I will be with my mask on my towel. I will only take it off to bathe », sentence.

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