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Masks: A letter from an Asthmatic

Do me a favor. Find a coffee straw, put it to your lips and try to breathe through it. You are experiencing asthma, on a bad day. Letís be generous though, shall we? Go find another straw, a bigger one. A straw with a normal-sized opening. Now breathe through it. Not as bad, but still hard. 

Keep breathing through that straw. Walk around, do some chores, but make sure you are only breathing through the straw. Welcome to asthma. 

Asthma comes in different forms. Some only experience it with exercise or allergies, but many experience it all the time. Asthma is considered a disability under the ADA, but most asthmatics are able to live normal lives. We live, work, and play sports, and so long as we have an inhaler ready, we are free to do most ďnormalĒ things. People learn to live with it and the lack of oxygen it often presents. 

Now itís time to up the game. Take that straw, and put something over it. A cloth, a paper towel, whatever, but place something over the straw. Now try to go about your daily tasks. How long does it take for you to feel light-headed? Minutes, hours? It probably depends on what type of straw you have, but you are going to feel light-headed long before you would if you didnít have the straw. 

When this happens, chances are, you arenít going to take the cloth off, youíre going to take the straw out of your mouth entirely. Your airways will open back up and you will go back about your normal day. 

Now imagine if you couldnít. Imagine if that straw was the only way you could breathe. Sure, you can take the cloth off, but thatís not going to help much if you are already low on oxygen. Now youíre panicking. Now itís getting worse. 

When you ask an asthmatic to wear a mask, you are asking them to breathe through a cloth-covered straw. You are asking a handicapped person to handicap themselves even more. Itís dangerous. 

There are many reason people should not wear masks. People with severe anxiety, autism, and asthma could be triggered by masks. If a state is going to require masks, they must account for those who can not wear them. Itís discriminatory and unsafe.

Masks work for some and hurt others. Donít assume one solution fits all. 

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