Alabama city council member fought against mandatory masks. Now, she's changed her opinion.

Anti-masker conspiracy theorists and entitled people who barge into grocery stores without face coverings have been getting a lot of press recently. But, the good news is that they don't reflect the views of most Americans.

A Gallup poll from earlier this month found that mask use among Americans is up significantly from where it was in April.

"The percentage of U.S. adults who say they have worn a mask in public in the past seven days rose from 51% in early April to the current 86% high point," the study says. "Currently, 11% say they have not considered wearing a mask, and 3% say they are considering it."


A big reason for the increase has been the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases over the past six weeks. Hopefully, the change in masking behavior will help to lower the skyrocketing infection rate; because right now, it's one of the only tools we have to fight back.

While rising rates and mask mandates have changed many people's behavior, a city councilwoman in Osceola, Alabama, learned to become pro-mask the hard way.

"I'm on the city council in Osceola, we were going to be voting on mandatory masks and I was against it. I was like why should they be able to tell me what to do," Sandra Brand said in a video for THV11.

But all of that changed after she came down with COVID-19 two weeks ago. Since, she has experienced difficulty breathing, a high fever, chills, and severe body aches.

At one point she thought she was going to die.

Arkansas woman changes mind on mask mandate after COVID-19 battle www.youtube.com

"I knew I was going to die, and I knew I was going to do it alone," she said from her hospital room. "This is my 15th day."

One of the most difficult things about fighting for her life is having to do it without her friends and family by her side. "You didn't have anyone there to hold your hand," she said.

Things were looking grim for Brand until she allowed doctors to give her a dose of the trial drug Remdesivir. "I can breathe for the first time in over two weeks," she said.

Now that she's got her voice back she is using it to urge people to use masks for their own safety and the health of others. "If you can stop somebody from coming in this room and feeling the kind of pain and fear that I have felt, why would you want to be that selfish?" she asked.

Brand's admission that she was wrong about masks and choosing to share her story with the world is commendable. Every person who sees her story and decides to mask up for the first time could wind up saving countless lives.

For those of us who've been doing the right thing by social distancing and wearing a mask, there may be a cheap thrill that comes with seeing an anti-masker becoming sick. But instead of saying "I told you so," we should rally around those who change their minds and decide to become part of the solution.

The only way we're going to get through this pandemic is when everyone decides to become part of the solution. The best way to do that is to make it socially acceptable for people to change their minds and throw on a mask.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

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The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

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