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.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.