DEAR HARRIETTE: I was horrified to learn that a co-worker and her entire family caught COVID-19 even though they wore masks the entire time that movers -- who were also wearing masks -- were moving them into their new home. She says they worked together for eight hours but never took off their masks. She suspects that because there was a lot of heavy breathing due to moving furniture, maybe more droplets got out. Whatever! I really thought that you were safe if you wore a mask. I'm afraid to do anything now, given this new situation. Can you completely protect yourself from this virus? -- Afraid To Breathe
DEAR AFRAID TO BREATHE: I have looked through the research presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations that are making recommendations, and what is clear is that they say that wearing a mask will REDUCE the spread of COVID-19. Nowhere does it say that it will fully prevent the spread. Further, there is now a more contagious variant of the virus, which means that it is easier to catch.
Sadly, we are still in dark days health-wise. And we must remain ever vigilant. I'm sure your friends thought they were doing their best to be safe. Unfortunately, they probably did not stay 6 feet apart given what they were doing. You also didn't mention hand-washing, which is at least as important as masks in preventing the spread.
A reminder: The safety recommendations are to wear a mask; stay 6 feet apart; avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas; and wash your hands regularly. These will help slow down the spread, but there is no 100% way to prevent catching the disease, and, as yet, there is no cure.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My longtime elderly neighbor's nephew is a terror to our building. In the past year, he has vandalized multiple apartments, chased neighbors with knives, cursed people out and put fear in all. He has littered my corridor and tried to break down the door multiple times.
I have spoken to my neighbor to ask her to put him out. She is afraid of him and says there's nothing she can do. We have called the police multiple times, but he always comes back. Recently, my super told me that this woman has asked me not to be mad at her. We have been neighbors for years, and she doesn't want her nephew to hurt our relationship. Really? I need her to put him out, and I cannot act like everything is OK. Am I wrong? -- Building Conflict
DEAR BUILDING CONFLICT: Tell your super, your building management and this neighbor that you will not stand for this vandal being allowed to live in your building and continue to terrorize you and your neighbors. You should file a formal complaint with the police against the offender and your neighbor, if she is the one who holds the lease. This is not about being friends or friendly. It's about personal safety.
You should also speak directly to your neighbor, letting her know that you are sorry that this situation is happening, but that it is her responsibility as this man has access to the building because of her. Ask her to do everything she can to remove him permanently.