COVID-19 Stories: The Shame Game

As the season changes and weather begins to cool, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in Mesa County. We’re working hard to reverse this course with your help, but it’s not the only trend we want to buck. Public shaming has taken center stage during the pandemic, and our community is not immune. 

At Mesa County Public Health, it’s our job to keep you informed of the latest statewide COVID-19 guidance, establish local public health orders, and work with you to keep Mesa County healthy. We trust that each resident will be responsible with the information at their disposal to keep themselves and others safe and healthy as well.

As health guidance such as social distancing, mask wearing, and restricted traveling are widely promoted across the nation, opinions vary both in favor and opposed. However, when those opinions become weapons to bully others in the form of shaming, our community is harmed.

The latest trend has been dubbed “COVID Shaming.” Once someone has received the dreaded news that they are COVID-19 positive, many people feel detached— perhaps no longer being invited to small social gatherings, unable to participate in sports, and relegated to a separate room in the house. Social media, however, takes it a step further, allowing users to publicly criticize and humiliate others for decisions made, opinions held, and actions taken that, in the context of a COVID-19 diagnosis, are viewed by some as condemnable. 

Everything we currently know about the virus tells us that once the symptoms have passed and the prescribed quarantine is over, the person who fell ill can re-enter normal, everyday activities without getting someone else sick. 

Mask shaming is also rampant, sometimes even rising to the level of bullying – both online and in person. Coloradans are required to wear masks in public per the Governor’s executive order, and there’s sound science behind it. Some individuals are unable to wear one for health reasons, others err on the safe side and wear a mask even in situations where they’re not required. Jumping to conclusions or judgment about why someone is or is not wearing a mask is unlikely to have any useful outcome. 

Shaming and bullying divide our community, and increase conflict and animosity in a time when tensions are already running high. COVID-19 has caused strain, but so do shaming and bullying. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Let’s start right here in Mesa County and buck the COVID-shaming trend.

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