#COVIDchaos: the mask debate

I thought we were on the mend from our coronavirus crisis – but things have escalated quickly over the past three weeks.

My last #covidchaos post indicated on June 13, there were 7.4 million cases worldwide, 2.1 million in the U.S., 11,047 in Kansas and 715 in Sedgwick County.

On July 3, there are 11 million cases worldwide, 2.85 million in the U.S., 15,290 in Kansas and 1,368 in Sedgwick County.

The U.S. has reported more than 50,000 cases each day for the past two days… record numbers. Some countries have banned Americans from visiting their countries. Several restaurants in our area have closed because an employee tested positive. My “work from home” situation has been extended to at least Aug. 31.

While some states are reducing their cases (New York, which was previously the epicenter), 36 states are seeing a drastic increase in positive cases. Part of the chaos is inconsistent messaging and lack of leadership in enforcing recommendations to the public to help contain the virus.

Enter the great mask debate.

Never in a million years would I have thought Americans would have such strong feelings about wearing a face mask or covering.

Health experts strongly recommend masks when indoors and social distancing is not feasible, and outdoors in a crowded setting. It can help slow the spread of the virus so we can get our economy back up and our children can go back to school in August. They have not been “to school” since March 13.

Mask opponents say “you can’t tell me what to do…it’s a free country…I have freedoms…it should be up to me whether I wear a mask.” But I have yet to see a relevant and compelling argument as to why this infringes on individual freedoms. This is a health crisis. We all have to work together to stop the spread. You could have COVID-19 and be asymptomatic. By wearing a mask, you decrease the chance that you might pass it on to someone else unintentionally. Isn’t that just being a good neighbor and responsible citizen?

On Thursday, our county voted against our state governor’s mask mandate, which was announced earlier in the week. The majority of county leaders said we should rely on individuals and businesses to act on their own initiative. But a “strong recommendation” doesn’t seem to be enough, as we’ve seen a drastic uptick in cases.

An emergency city council meeting was called, and after hearing from 12 medical experts who laid out a grim picture of what would happen if there was NO mask mandate, the council made revisions to the governor’s mandate and it passed by a slim margin (three hours later).

The mandate basically says wear a mask when:

  • in indoor or outdoor public spaces where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained
  • in healthcare settings such as hospitals, pharmacies, physician or dental office, veterinary clinics, etc.
  • on public transportation
  • employees working in food service

Sounds reasonable… πŸ‘πŸ»

We already have masks at my house, but this gives me an excuse to get another one… [Googles “harry potter face masks”] #maskupICT

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