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Want to Start Getting Back to Normal? Wear Your Mask

by on July 21, 2020 5:00 AM


Do you want to feel more confident about going out with family and friends to your favorite restaurants, movie theatres, sporting events, and other public gathering places? Do you want kids to go back to school, get to play sports, march in the school band, participate in the school play or musical and be able to socialize with their friends this fall? Do you want to see college football and other sports being played in front of live crowds again? Do you want to travel across the country and the world with confidence and peace of mind?

Then wear your mask.

I know I want all that and more and I want it as soon as possible. I want the ice back in Pegula Ice Arena so I can get back to embarrassing myself playing adult league hockey.

Do you want life to get back to some semblance of normal? Do you want to feel more comfortable about going to an emergency room or to your primary care physician? Do you want to travel and eat out and shop in stores in person and get a break from Zoom meetings? Do you want more businesses to reopen and people to start working again?

Then do your part. Wear your mask.

We need all hands on deck to defeat the coronavirus. That means all of us doing our part and controlling what we can control to assist. It means making some short-term sacrifices for long term gains.

How can you help? 

1. Buy local as often as possible. You can order online from most local businesses as easy as you can from Amazon, and you keep that money local.

2.  Visit local parks, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. Be as social as you can while following the guidelines.


That’s right. Wear the darn thing. It’s a fairly easy task for most of us. We finally got our chance to start reopening the country and we blew it in part because we got cocky and we got complacent. I want our local businesses to not just survive but to thrive. I want kids back in school and I want people to feel safe to come back to enjoy all that Centre County and Happy Valley have to offer.

No whining or complaining, just do it. Even if you don’t entirely believe in its effectiveness, do it for the sake of the masses; do it for others. Do it so our businesses can reopen and stay open and get closer to full capacity. I want to see life get back on track and one of the few things we can all do to help is to wear our masks. As my wife likes to say, “It can’t hurt, and it might really help!” We will likely get a second chance at reopening and ramping up capacity to gather in crowds again and, when we do, let’s get it right this time.

What, you’re afraid you won’t look cool in a mask? Afraid to be a little uncomfortable? Well don’t be selfish and stubborn and don’t make this about thumbing your nose at the health experts and politicians. Even if it is only partially effective, it’s an easy thing for the vast majority of us to do (unless you have legitimate health concerns that prevent you from wearing).

We need to all be a part of the solution to end this pandemic as soon as possible. If you are like me and have a healthy skepticism of what I read and see in the media and social media, I totally understand why you might balk at the idea of wearing a mask and following all the guidelines. Hard to know who to believe these days. However, I also have learned that there is a lot of science to back up the overwhelming positives of wearing a mask, especially if you find yourself in situations where you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.

Come on people, we can do this. I really don’t care about your political party leanings. Let’s all put the conspiracy theories and the fear mongering on hold and let’s work together for everyone’s sake. Cooperate, compromise, and be civil to each other!

Despite the virus, there are still a lot of great things you can do in Centre County if you stay connected and follow the guidelines. For instance, this past Saturday, the Jana Marie Foundation held “Jana’s Drive-in Diner” in the parking lot of the Nittany Mall. It provided a chance to come together to build community, listen to entertainment, build memories and raise funds for the Jana Marie Foundation. JMF raises awareness and provides programs for mental health in Centre County. 

Marisa Vicere, president of JMF, said that the event was awesome. “There were over 150 cars that attended the event,” she said. “We went through 114 pounds of mac and cheese and countless pizzas. We netted over $3500! Many individuals came dressed for the 50’s and loved seeing all the classic cars.” All while practicing safe distancing and proper use of masks.

Jana Marie Foundation community engagement manager Miriam Powell, left, and founder and president Marisa Vicere, at the Jana's Drive-In Diner fundraiser on July 18 at the Nittany Mall parking lot. Photo by Michael Powell

I was recently voted onto the board of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. I personally support reasonable and commonsense protocols and guidelines. Had we all done what was asked perhaps we wouldn’t have had to go back into lockdown in many parts of the state and the country. I am a “pro-solutions” guy. Everyone has to give a little and cooperate as we try to get the economy rolling.

Set yourself up for success by keeping extra masks in your car, purse, drop kits, golf bags or wherever you can to be ready. Have signs in your homes reminding everyone to take their masks with them, to wash their hands often and to pay attention to physical distancing. 

According to a June 2020 article on, “People More Likely to Keep Their Distance If You’re Wearing a Mask,” Dr. Massimo Marchiori, a professor at The University of Padua in Italy, used the COVID-19 pandemic to study how people really behaved with regard to physical distancing.

“What Marchiori found was quite dramatic,” the article states. “When they weren’t wearing a mask, people tended to get quite close — sometimes within a foot away — when they passed by. When they wore a mask, however, the distance maintained nearly doubled.”

Dr. Marchiori dispels several frequently used rationales for why people don’t wear masks including: 

  • They aren’t effective in stopping the spread of germs. (They are.)

  • They’re too uncomfortable. (So is getting sick or dying.)

  • They’re hard to breathe through, and carbon dioxide builds up. (Materials have improved, and CO2 DOES flow out of the mask.)

“Not everyone has the resources to stay at home throughout this period. People need to empathize and not judge,” Dr. Marchiori said.

Try not to judge others while only looking through your own lens. You may not know if the person without a mask has a legitimate medical reason for not sporting a mask. If you are concerned that someone isn’t wearing a mask, just do your best to avoid them. We all have different levels of risk aversion. But be smart. Be reasonable. Be cooperative. Be respectful.

I wanted to share a timely poem by my friend Bob Dickson, Penn State Class of 1971, that is spot on:

An important question to ask: Do you always wear a face mask?

If you do not, I ask you why? Just put one on and then just sigh!

Yes, it hides your shining smile. Decorate it and all will howl!

Or something else for you to try, smile with a twinkle in your eye!

Masks protect us all, you’ll see. Very soon, we will be bug free!

So, don your mask and hide your face. For the sake of the human race! 

Don’t make this a political issue. Make it a humanity issue. Just do it. If not for you for everyone else. Be the ultimate team player in the game of life.

It is a means to an end. Wear your mask!


Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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