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.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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