Idahoans hold signs and listen to speeches during a protest across the street from the Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

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Autumn Short works in a bank in Meridian, handles money often, and doesn’t wear a face mask, as many people have started to do when in public in response to the new coronavirus, writes Idaho Press reporter Tommy Simmons. Short doesn’t fault anyone for wearing a mask — she believes it’s a personal choice, she wrote in an email to the Idaho Press — but she doesn’t believe wearing a mask will keep the virus from spreading, given all the ways a person can become infected.

Plus, she works in a bank — and, in the pre-pandemic world, if people entered a bank wearing a mask, one could be forgiven for thinking they had less-than-altruistic intentions. The bank where she works asks customers not to wear a mask inside, although if they are uncomfortable with that, they can still use the drive-thru, Short said.

“I do not look down on people that wear a mask because it is their own personal choice,” Short wrote. “We have the freedom to choose and I choose not to.”

Boise resident Katrina Krueger, on the other hand, wears a mask even when she's walking her dog. It might seem excessive, she said, but Krueger remembers what it was like visiting her late sister, who was immunocompromised, in a nursing home. Her sister died before the coronavirus outbreak, but Krueger would wear a mask when visiting.

"It was to protect my sister from me, not to protect me from my sister," Krueger told the Idaho Press.

She said that understanding of masks influenced her choice to wear a mask during the new coronavirus outbreak.

That daily choice of whether to wear a mask is part of the new reality Americans are now inhabiting. Once considered unnecessary or largely useless, cloth face masks have since been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Americans in their day-to-day lives as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

But that doesn’t mean all Americans are following those guidelines, or others from public health officials — and there are a variety of reasons why they might not, ranging from the political to the practical to the personal.

You can read Simmons' full story here at, or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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