Rantz: WA Health Dept says wear mask while cleaning dishes, folding laundry

May 18, 2020, 8:58 PM | Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:09 am
coronavirus mask...
To ultimately protect your kids from the coronavirus, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents wear a mask while doing the dishes or folding laundry. (DOH Facebook screenshot)
(DOH Facebook screenshot)

To ultimately protect your kids, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents wear a coronavirus mask while doing the dishes or folding laundry.

The advice, not backed up by science or data, would not protect you from the coronavirus. Instead, it appears DOH hopes to get parents to normalize the coronavirus mask so that their kids may feel more comfortable wearing them. This is overkill.

Coronavirus mask or facial covering advice

State public health officials, along with various county officials, strongly encourage you to wear masks or facial coverings when in public, where social distancing isn’t possible. This is wise, data-driven advice to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus.

Wearing a coronavirus mask while doing dishes or the laundry doesn’t protect you from the coronavirus, unless you’re doing these chores in a public, shared space with strangers. It just makes doing these chores more difficult.

The advice is more about normalizing the use of the masks for your kids, so they’re more likely to wear it themselves.

“While some children will not have any trouble…” putting on masks DOH says, “others may struggle. It might feel weird to them, it might slip around, and it’s harder to put things in your mouth when it’s covered.”

A way to get them more comfortable is to “model the behavior” you want your kids to adopt.

“Leave your cloth face covering where your child can see it,” DOH suggests. “Wear it while doing simple tasks, like washing dishes or folding laundry so that it becomes more normal.”

Doesn’t seem like the right advice

I’m not a doctor nor a parent, but I’ve seen every episode of “House” and I know some parents (though I try to stay away from their annoying kids). In other words, I have some knowledge on this topic; I’m practically an expert. This seems like bad advice.

First, the guidance is to wear masks outside, not inside. Model the mask behavior where you’re most at risk of the coronavirus because that’s where you want the kids wearing the mask. Unless you’ve got the mask on 24/7, any time you take off the mask in the enclosed space of a home will expose you to coronavirus if it’s living there. So you might as well not wear it at all.

Second, wearing a mask, be it a N-95 or a bandanna, is uncomfortable. It’s harder to breath in, can be itchy, and for those of us with large heads (to fit our giant brains and egos), the elastic pieces around your ears can pinch. Why should you torment your kid with the discomfort of a mask indoors when it’s not part of the guidance?

Third, and most importantly, we shouldn’t normalize wearing a mask. It’s not normal. It shouldn’t be normal.

This is a temporary move during the pandemic. Wearing a mask to protect a kid from a dangerous virus is scary. That means, they’ll likely be scared when the mask is on, becoming potentially obsessive in his or her goal of not being infected.

You’re literally telling dumb-dumb kids that there’s a menacing, invisible virus that can kill grandma if they’re exposed to it. You think when the pandemic is over they’ll be less scared that the virus they can’t see is suddenly gone? They won’t believe you. Why? Because adults lie to kids and kids know that.

Plus, as an adult, I’m still scarred and scared from seeing the invisible bad guy (nature! the bad guy was nature and it killed everyone with just wind! SERIOUSLY! WIND!) in The Happening.

Why train a kid to treat their home as dangerous by wearing the mask? Let them be kids in the house.

So what should we do, know-it-all?

A friend of mine, a parent of two kids, has some advice. She doesn’t have them wear the masks indoors, but has them bring it with them whenever they have to travel.

She asks them in the car, “Did you bring your mask?” If they say no, she tells them then they can’t leave the car. Don’t worry, she cracks a window and gives them unfettered access to YouTube, which, come to think of it, is probably as dangerous to a kid as them catching the coronavirus.

Never mind. Do whatever DOH tells you. I don’t even like kids.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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Rantz: WA Health Dept says wear mask while cleaning dishes, folding laundry