Listen Up! Don’t Let Jason’s COVID-19 Related Death be in Vain. Wear Your Mask and Save Lives Across our Great Nation

Do it for Jason!

Do it for Jason! Desha Johnson-Hargrove, Jason’s wife, shared his story with Time.  She implored, “Don’t let his death be in vain”.  Jason died from complications of COVID-19 on April Fool’s Day this year. He died 11 days after his Facebook Live post of a passenger who coughed without covering her face. Desha says she did not know that Jason, a father of six, wonderful husband, and proud bus driver would be the sacrificial lamb.  “Jason stood up for what was right.” Right now we need to rise up and do what we can to protect ourselves and others.

Black is Human

I had heard about the Facebook video. It entered my consciousness while I was drinking some Earl Grey Premium tea and Googling. I came across this piece by the Burrell Communication Group, For Jason. As part of their Black is Human initiative, this tribute to Jason, a 50 year old Detroit transit driver, includes excerpts from his Facebook post that went viral. It also incorporates facts about the impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. This powerful message is worth sharing because COVID-19 is wreaking havoc all over the Nation.

Stay Home Rules Relaxed but Don’t get Rocked to Sleep

As stay at home orders are being lifted don’t get rocked to sleep, you must stay woke. Practice physical distancing, handwashing, and wear a cloth MASK.

Some Governors are easing or lifting stay at home orders and paving the way to open up businesses.  Even businesses that require very close contact like barbershops, salons, and nail shops are being included. Should these businesses be opening now?  

I’ve overheard some Black people saying, “Yeah, we see the way they are starting out with our businesses, even as we are already dying more from COVID-19.” We all understand the economics of being closed, but if we open up too soon, there will be no customers.  They will be ill or dead. Many other citizens are getting edgy and they want to go to beaches, restaurants, and business establishments. Our leader is applauding their restless rebellion. Stay woke!  Pay close attention to how to be safe. Follow the leader was a game we played when I was a child.

Take Every Precaution YOU can & Continue to Wear the Mask

Whatever you do, don’t give up your masks too soon.  Certainly masks alone aren’t the answer, but masks can make a big difference when coupled with the following :

  • physical distancing
  • handwashing
  • staying at home

China, months after their first cases, are still wearing masks. Right now the CDC encourages all Americans to wear cloth face masks that cover the nose and mouth, when out in public places like grocery stores, pharmacies. “This is an additional measure to help slow the spread of the virus.”

Why the Change in Mask Recommendations?

Confused?  Initially the government officials said masks were not helpful and not needed for the general public. They recommended masks only for those that were ill or caring for someone that was ill. Two days after Jason’s death the CDC changed course.  What changed?

Well, this is a novel respiratory virus which means we lacked experience with it.  Recommendations had to be created along the way. Emerging information showed officials that some infected people without symptoms could spread the virus to others without knowing it. They believed that face coverings could prevent this when used with some of the other physical practices. The main benefit of cloth masks is protecting others from being infected by the wearer of the mask. 

Wearing Masks as a Social Norm

This Boston Globe article offers a logical conclusion to why guidance against wearing masks for this pandemic was wrong. The authors also highlight the fact that masks are not the social norm in the U.S., but we need to change this for the health of our Nation.

“We need to change our perception that masks are only for sick people and that it’s…shameful to wear one … If more people donned masks it would become a social norm as well as a public health good.”  Shan Soe-Lin and Robert Hecht, Boston Globe, 3.19.20 

The Nitty Gritty on Cloth Masks- WHO, WHAT, HOW, WHY, WHEN & WHERE

Now that cloth masks (face coverings) are recommended, pay attention to the details. Points of emphasis: do not use a face mask like the N95 meant for health care workers. Continue social distancing and handwashing. The cloth face cover alone is not a substitute for these practices.

  1. Who:  most people should wear a mask.  Exception: children under two and people with significant breathing problems.  Don’t wear a mask if it makes it hard to breathe.
  2. What: the cloth mask.  See tips from the CDC . Cloth masks can be crafted from household items at a low cost.  If you already have surgical masks these are fine to wear.
  3. How:  cover both your nose and mouth. Just the mouth or just the nose won’t do.
  4. Why:  to protect other people in case you (the masked person) are infected with COVID-19. The main purpose for wearing the mask is to protect the people around you.
  5. When & where:  definitely wear outside the home in public spaces, like grocery stores, other retail stores, and on public transit. 

Wearing the Cloth Face Covering/Mask- Doing it Right

CDC suggests that cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
  • Sanitize your hands when putting on or taking off the mask

Cleaning the cloth mask:

Wash your face mask after each use, or at least daily.  The California Department of Public Health recommends machine washing the cloth mask with detergent and hot water. Then dry it on a hot cycle.

What About Black men? 

Black men are definitely at higher risk for dying from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. So, we want them to benefit from the measures that could improve this situation.  In America we know that wearing a mask could pose a threat for Black men. These concerns are highlighted in the New York Times article, For Black Men, Fears That Masks Will Invite Racial Profiling.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association encourages us all to wear masks and specifically comments on the issues impacting African American men.  Dr. Benjamin knows first-hand the concerns of “being Black while wearing a mask”, as he shared on Black & Well TV.  He suggests having the mask on hand and using your survival instincts to decide when to don the mask.  For instance, you might not want to wear a mask when entering a bank.  In general, wear the mask around the neck or head until assessing the situation and then pull it over the face if deemed safe.

Masks – Opportunity or Burden?

Masks are not just a passing fancy.  They will be around for a while. Let’s wear masks so we can collectively live while we still have breath to breathe through a mask. Do you see wearing a cloth mask as a burden?  Use the mask as an opportunity to express your creativity, your cultural bent, your passion.  It can be a fashion statement if you want. I had a few surgical masks from a previous project, but when I started running low I found some wonderful choices on the Internet.

Honor Jason & Wear a Mask for the Collective Good

Wearing masks is part of the solution to stop the trail of disease and deaths. Defeating COVID-19 is critical. We have to unite for this cause. We need as many people as possible to wear masks. But don’t just wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart and wash your hands frequently.

Jason wanted to make sure that his people were protected. He put his life on the line to serve others.  Did you listen and hear his words? We know that there can’t be 100% participation, but those who can, please wear a mask. Do it for Jason!

Jason we love your courage and strength. We know you are waiting to hear if we got it right to stop this COVID-19. 

Tea Chaser:

If someone is not wearing a mask and coughing in a public space, should you say something?


Published by Dr.TeaNT

Active clinician winding down by writing the truth About health. Spilling the tea on the effects of COVID- 19 and more on the community.

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