If you remember only one sentence in this piece, let it be this one: Please wear a face mask.
This advice has been bouncing around for a while now, and during this COVID-19 pandemic, some people have taken it to heart while others haven’t.
But it’s really time for more of you to get on board with this.
The reasons are abundant.
The most conspicuous one right now, of course, is playing out in Washington as President Donald Trump has been hospitalized after testing positive sometime last week for COVID-19. The apparent source of the infection was a White House event held Sept. 27 to announce the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Very few masks were worn and no social distancing was practiced. Since then, several people in attendance, as well as a rising number of people who came in contact with some of those attendees, have tested positive for COVID.
Here, a few criticisms of this situation could be offered here, but that’s not why we are imploring you today to wear masks.
Instead, look at what’s happening in South Dakota and Nebraska at this moment.
Last week, South Dakota saw some of its worst COVID numbers to date, including recording double-digit deaths in two of the first three days of October. This came after enduring the deadliest month of the pandemic to date in September, when the state saw 56 deaths related to COVID. As of this writing, not yet one full week into October, we are already 44% of the way toward that grim total. We also saw a one-day high in new infections processed (747) and deaths, and the number of active cases and hospitalizations reached new highs, too.
Meanwhile, Nebraska saw 25 more deaths last week as well as its biggest single day of new infections.
Neither state mandates masks; in fact, they don’t really encourage them. In Nebraska, the governor at one point a couple months ago threatened to withhold federal COVID relief aid from counties that impose mask mandates in their government facilities. In South Dakota, the governor has dismissed the science behind wearing masks as questionable.
Last week, on the same day South Dakota announced those big increases in cases and deaths, state officials declared they were reducing their COVID-19 media briefings from twice a week to once a week. Perhaps that was planned, but the timing was, to say the least, awkward.
Meanwhile, the national response to the pandemic has been a mess, with last week’s developments in Washington representing a distressing assessment of the federal leadership in dealing with this plague …
So, it seems you’re on your own when it comes to protecting yourself and others from the coronavirus.
But, as pessimistic as that sounds, it’s actually quite empowering.
While fact masks are not a 100% guaranteed defense against the virus, they can provide you with better odds of protecting yourself, as well as increase your ability to not spread the coronavirus to others. This will also be important during the looming flu season, when a lot of confusion and fear may reign; in fact, wearing masks and employing other safety protocols may actually boost your defense against the flu (although, and we can’t stress this enough, they should not be embraced as a substitute for a flu shot).
Ultimately, of course, the choice and the responsibility are yours. But from what we’ve seen, you could do a lot worse than wearing a face mask and maintaining other safety protocols. Right now, your best defense is really up to you.