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.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.