Herald-Whig View

Yes, you still need to wear a mask

Posted: Jun. 28, 2020 12:01 am

CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS around the country are on the rise once again, with record numbers of cases in several states. And while Illinois had held the line on a steady reopening that resulted in the state seeing a declining number of cases, that is no longer true in Adams County, which has seen the number of local cases increase by more than 70% in the past 10 days.

What we find to be nearly concerning as the rising number of people infected by this illness is the growing number of people we see in public who continue to not wear masks or observe social distancing protocols.

For months, we sacrificed to "flatten the curve" of illnesses while thousands died every day across the country. We watched footage of bodies being stored in refrigeration trucks in New York. We read stories of nurses begging people to stay home. And by and large, we did what we needed to do to stop a tsunami of infections from ravaging the country.

Was it pleasant? Absolutely not. We often found ourselves with raging cases of cabin fever, but we stayed home. We limited trips to grocery stores, and when we went, we wore masks and followed the one-way arrows in the aisles. We helped our children with home-schooling. We even did without toilet paper when necessary.

We did the right thing.

The cost was steep, though. Businesses lost customers and cash flow. Supply lines were disrupted. Far too many people to count lost their jobs, and families have struggled to pay rent and keep food on their tables.

But we also shopped locally to help support businesses here. We ordered takeout or delivery more often. We tipped better. We made masks for our friends and neighbors, and we thanked those tagged with the ludicrous moniker "essential" for continuing to put themselves at risk. Private citizens took it upon themselves to stock blessing boxes around the city for people in need to be able to find some food.

We did the right thing.

Now, though, it's rare to see anyone wearing a mask while walking the aisles of a grocery store. If your face is covered while paying for gas, you're likely to get strange looks from other customers. Far too many businesses allow patrons to disregard the businesses' own rules while they shop, and a growing number seem to think it unnecessary at all for their employees to be masked.

It's almost as though people simply doesn't care about the health and well-being of others.

All too often, we hear "If it's your time, it's your time. There is nothing we can do." Yes, there is: Wear a mask. Or "You take care of your family, and I'll take care of mine." Yes, please do: Wear a mask.

It's not a difficult concept to understand, really. Study after study has shown us masks significantly reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by the wearer. It's not all about you; in fact, it's about you not giving the virus to someone else before you're symptomatic. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization now recommend wearing a cloth mask anytime you're in public. Not to protect you, but to protect everyone you're around. And their spouses. And their children. And their parents and grandparents and anyone else they are around.

Spare us the predictable arguments about liberty and freedom.

You see, this isn't about politics or elections. It's not about power or control, and it's not about presidents or governors. It's about one thing, and one thing only: Saving people's lives. Surely you can suffer a minor inconvenience so that someone might not die alone in an ICU after being intubated and in a coma for weeks while their bodies waste and finally give out, or so that someone who recovers doesn't have to have a leg amputation or a lung transplant.

Let's not let months of personal sacrifices be in vain. Let's not let the hardships suffered by so many mean nothing. Instead, let's look out for each other. Let's have some kindness and compassion and take these small steps to care for those around us.

Let's do the right thing.

Keep your distance, and wear a mask.