Fogging is clearly a widespread nuisance afflicting the far-sighted and near-sighted alike, yet another milky veil the coronavirus has cast over everyday life. After two or three breaths, it’s like I’m stumbling through a cloud. The world becomes a terrarium, and I’m just another blind tree frog feeling my way around the rainforest floor.
So I tried the tips outlined in the primer, except the ones that required buying anything I can’t get from a local essential business. First up was a suggestion included in a 2011 study published in the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England: Wash glasses with soapy water; shake off excess; air-dry or wipe with soft tissue.
It flunked. Air-drying left its own fog of soap residue on the lenses. We don’t have Kleenex, and I’m not about to waste a precious sheet of Angel Soft on an elective experiment. TRUE FACT: Newsprint is best for cleaning glasses. Bathroom mirrors, too.
Tip Number Two: Tighten the mask so it’s so snug your breath is forced through the fabric and not upward. This might have worked if I could ignore the childhood-Halloween-mask-style pain caused by the edges stabbing my flesh. I’m not complaining. I’ve seen the sobering images of exhausted doctors, nurses and other hospital workers after wearing face masks for 20 hours straight.
Their faces look they were carved up with knives and buffed with sandpaper and rock salt. If they can stand it day in, day out, I can suck it up for 20 minutes at the supermarket. So can you.
The final tip seemed the most promising: A folded tissue tucked between face and mask to absorb the moisture of each steaming breath. Again, I wasn’t about to waste toilet paper. Instead, I used an old fast-food napkin that was never used but smelled like French fry grease, anyway. The result: A trip to the Burger King drive-thru, where no mask is required.
Reviewing the mixed results of my experiments, I’m resigned to the reality that however I wear my mask, some fogging is inevitable. We are all — the bespectacled and the frames-free — stumbling around in a fog in unfamiliar territory. More and more of us can’t wait to escape the terrarium, and Gov. Tom Wolf has a plan for gradually reopening the state. It’s not the jailbreak the most impatient among us are howling for, and can only work if testing levels are raised sufficiently for a safe transition.
Those who don’t believe scientists who insist increased testing is essential — like the young man I interviewed in my Sunday column — are as near-sighted as they are panicked over the cratered economy. Everyone wants to return to “normal” and get people back to work, but because testing was not and is still not a federal priority, we are practically flying blind. I’m sticking with the far-sighted experts who say that if we don’t reopen safely, sanely and by the numbers, we risk destroying what’s left of the economy and seeding a spike in infections that overwhelms an already strained hospital system.
If you can’t see the wisdom in that, look at the faces of hospital workers with the outlines of masks seared into their faces on the front lines of a war most of us have the luxury of sitting out. Tell them you’re tired of living through the “nightmare” of staying home day after day after day. I dare you.
Today’s Times-Tribune clears things up on a variety of topics. Get the latest COVID-19 news here. The state reported 47 new coronavirus deaths across the state, but no new deaths in Lackawanna and four other local counties. Staff Writer Borys Krawczeniuk has the story here. The “Digital Divide” is hampering access to online education for students across NEPA. Staff Writer Sarah Hofius Hall has the story here.
Two mysteries unrelated to the pandemic make for good reads. A fisherman spotted a box truck submerged in the lake at Lackawanna State Park. Staff Writer Jon O’Connell has the story here. Scranton police are still investigating a mysterious letter that describes the scene of a decades-old alleged murder. Staff Writer Joseph Kohut, who alerted police to the latter in January, has the update here.
Subscribe to The Times-Tribune here for local, compelling content you can’t get anywhere else. A digital subscription is $4.95 a month, less than you spent daily on drive-thru coffee and bagels back when we all still went to work.
Eventually, the fog will lift and we’ll be free to explore the new “normal.” Until we can do that safely, try to be far-sighted.
The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands. And clean your lenses with newsprint. Nothing clears fog better.