Editorial: Let’s all do our part and cover our mouths and noses in public
–While the official consensus on whether or not to wear masks has vacillated, we don’t have to wait for a government mandate to do the right thing.
We know better. Scientists tell us the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, is highly infectious. It spreads about two-times easier than the seasonal flu and the case fatality rate is 10-30-times higher.
The incubation rate is much longer than the flu, up to 14 days, and people without symptoms can spread the disease. The virus spreads primarily by close contact with an infected person, by coughs, sneezes, and even tiny droplets of moisture expelled by breathing and speaking, experts say.
Are you spreading the virus unknowingly? Am I? We really don’t know. But by covering our mouths and noses, we can help keep our coughs, sneezes, and tiny droplets of moisture from reaching other people. Wearing a face covering is not so much for our protection, it’s so we can help protect other people.
We need to preserve the virus-filtering N95 masks for health care workers and first responders, but we can use alternatives like cloth masks, scarves, or bandanas.
Some local residents are already helping the cause by sewing cloth masks for others. Local Realtor and Paso Robles Rotary Club President Nicolette Harley Barth is making dozens of masks every day. She sent me this video to share with anyone interested in joining the effort.
Covering our faces is not a substitute for physically distancing ourselves six-to-10-feet from other people, but let it act as a reminder to stay away from others. It’s not a substitute for washing our hands and avoiding touching our faces, but still, they might help.
The Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Public Health, and the County of San Luis Obispo have all in recent days come around to soft recommendations on wearing face coverings. Reports from South Korea, Japan, Czech Republic, and China, show masks might help slow the spread of this coronavirus.
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” CDC guidance now says. See state guidance here.
When unable to avoid close contact with others, you may also consider wearing gloves, or carrying alcohol or bleach wipes, as the virus can be stable for two to three days on hard surfaces like cardboard, plastic, and stainless steel, according to the National Institutes of Health.
We are all in this together, let’s do our part, and make a difference.