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Wear a mask

Posted 5/28/20

These have been very tough months for all of us. The deadliest pandemic in over a century has caused enormous disruption in all our lives. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, over …

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Wear a mask

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These have been very tough months for all of us. The deadliest pandemic in over a century has caused enormous disruption in all our lives. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, over 100,000 people have died from COVID-19. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Also, according to the NYS Department of Labor, Sullivan County's April 2020 unemployment rate is 13.1 percent.

We find ourselves longing for the distant past of four months ago when we could go out to a restaurant, sit down in a movie theater or go visit a grandparent at an assisted living facility.

The true measure of coronavirus restrictions could be felt over Memorial Day weekend. During a time when the nation takes a moment to observe those in the military who have lost their lives defending this country, most of the public was not permitted to attend these services in person. Those who did attend the services (elected officials, as well as some veterans and members of the press) were all required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

We understood and adhered to these precautions, especially since our veteran population is getting older and public health experts say older Americans are more susceptible to the virus.

With every state in the country now entering some phase of reopening, there's hope that we can slowly start to return to the way life used to be.

But this return to normalcy should be a marathon, not a sprint. We're not out of the woods yet. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reopening too soon and easing precautions too quickly could risk a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Fauci said the public should continue to practice social distancing and wear masks when in close proximity to other people.

There's a vocal minority of Americans, at times encouraged by the president and a particular news network, for whom wearing a mask has become a politically charged issue. But extending this simple courtesy to your fellow citizens has more to do with public safety than it does with petty, partisan politics.

Talking about wearing face masks, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, said, “This is not a liberal or conservative issue ... This is an issue of how do I protect my neighbor? How do I protect people I love? How do I protect people I don't even know?”

We should remember that wearing a mask isn't just for your own protection. It also protects other people you come into contact with. This is especially important because public health officials say someone can carry the COVID-19 virus without showing any symptoms.

Refusing to wear a mask in confined public spaces during a pandemic, especially when people are still dying, is an act of profound selfishness.

Too many people have already died. We should all do our part to help prevent losing more.

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