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Being COVID Shamed: Is the Pandemic Over?

01 November 2022 9:30 AM | Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr., DM

Less than one week after the original blog on COVID Shaming was posted, I was COVID Shamed! Standing in line at the post office, someone spoke to me from behind. Once I turned around, the person asked if I still worked at a local food processing plant. When I replied no, he asked when I joined the Army. Tired of the questioning, I removed one ear loop of my mask and stated, “I think you have me mistaken for someone else.” The response was, “You sure look like… and why the heck are you wearing that mask? The pandemic is over.” I simply replied, “Maybe for some people.” I could not believe it; I had just been COVID Shamed!

Even More Unsettling

I was shocked and dismayed, to say the least, not just because of the COVID Shaming, but because of the possible issues surrounding the incident.

  • 1.      Mistaken Identity. This person only saw me from behind and believed he knew me. I was wearing an Army baseball cap labeled ARMY on the back but, he continued to pursue the conversation. What if I had felt threatened, or he sought to do me harm?
  • 2.      Unusual Familiarity. Even after I turned around and established that the person did not know me, he continued to speak to me as if we knew each other. Is it proper to just say anything to anyone you do not know?
  • 3.      Bold Assertion. After identifying that he did not know me, he continued to assert that, ‘The pandemic is over.” He did not know if I had an underlying medical condition, was recently ill, or just wanted to wear a mask. Should a person’s motives for wearing or not wearing a mask be questioned?  

At Foreign Affairs Council, although we do not take a position on the topics we raise, this does not preclude us from experiencing the outcomes of the subjects we introduce. Because this is a narrative account, I must say that I felt shamed and almost belittled, but my discipline did not allow the incident to escalate.

How do you think you will handle being COVID Shamed?

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