Local caregiver uses art to illustrate the importance of wearing masks

Monday was the first official day that all King County residents were asked to wear masks when out in public. Some healthcare officials say the directive is a long time coming.

"There's too many people who could have the virus who are non-symptomatic who could spread it, so if everyone wears a mask, it protects everyone from everyone else," says ER nurse Vanessa Veit.

When Vanessa isn't working at St. Joseph's hospital in Bellingham, she's distributing masks to essentially anyone who asks for them. As she says it's crucial we all have one.

"You would never think of going to the grocery store barefoot and naked, so why would you go without a mask?"

Vanessa is part of a team, often called mask warriors, who have an important message.

"We are covering the whole community, we are a community. That's our goal, to protect our community and our livelihoods," says local mask maker Misty Mostrom.

Michelle Stiles, who sell masks on Etsy through her shop "Lady Stiles," says wearing a mask is a way for us all to show each other compassion.

"It feels like I'm conveying the fact that I care about you and your health."

It's a message and mission that deeply struck one local caretaker. Rebecca Goulder-Grieg is a local artist and a lead home care supervisor for the nonprofit Full Life.

Rebecca has seen people's lives taken by the virus. She herself likely had it in early March, but wasn't able to get tested.

It was when she was sick that she decided to find a way to capture what is now such a significant part of the battle: masks.

"It's about medicine, and it's about peoples lives. And if you make it about politics, then people will suffer," says Rebecca.

Rebecca's portraits are of women who've donated their time to help keep so many safe. With everything she's seen as a caretaker during the pandemic, she says it's crushing to see people disregard the message that everyone needs a mask in public.

"Those people have the option to wear it or not, to stay at home or not. And there's a lot of people who don't have that option-we have to be out there."