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OUR VIEW: Putting on a mask shouldn't require a push
OUR VIEW

OUR VIEW: Putting on a mask shouldn't require a push

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: July 5 series
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The president of the United States said the other day that wearing a mask to combat the coronavirus is a good idea. He said he recently had worn one and liked his “Lone Ranger” look. We get that, because, on too many occasions he has looked like the lone ranger for NOT wearing a mask in public. We hope that changes, because apparently we Americans need more role models. We definitely are not wearing our masks, and record numbers of us are coming down with COVID-19.

And we’re sick of all of it.

First, let’s look at this logistically. Even if more cases of the virus are being found in, say, Florida, Texas or even North Carolina, those put Virginians in far more danger simply because of the habits of the people involved and the interwoven capillaries of our lives.

As more cases break out, more restrictions are put into place, more businesses suffer and close, our trying-to-heal economy goes into another plunge (which economists are predicting). And our doors shut to the outside world.

But those are just fearsome forecasts. Should you really require any individual’s endorsement or dumps of dire data to ensure you do the right thing and wear a mask? Can’t you just do so as an investment in the greater good, by helping to protect our elderly and infirmed and most vulnerable, and in the potential that we might someday get to rub elbows again?

Apparently not.

Because of that inability we have leading organizations in Martinsville and Henry County uniting to encourage you to “Mask Up.” Members of these groups are out on the streets, interacting, visiting businesses and talking to you. And they don’t like what they are seeing.

Witness this anguishing assessment from Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Watkins about how many people she has seen wearing masks:

“I would guess at 30 to 35% have one [a mask] on consistently and properly, based on what I see.”

Seriously, a person whose job it is to pay attention to businesses is seeing six or seven out of every 10 of us not wearing a mask?

How can that be? We have hundreds of cases across the West Piedmont Health District. We’ve had dozens of people in the hospital. Eight have died.

We have larger employers that have had to shut down from time to time to ensure they weren’t going to become incubators or distributors of the virus. But this isn’t really an issue that companies should have to face. If only you would wear a darned mask.

Such a mandate should not require prizes and contests to inspire you. No one should have to write you a ticket and fine you. This should not require hearing any government leader to implore you. You should not have to be required by statute, as you are in Virginia and about 20 other states.

This is your moral responsibility. An investment.

You want proof that masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus? Maybe you sneer at the CDC’s 90% safety figure if two people interact and both wear masks. But CNN reported that a team of researchers in Texas and California compared COVID-19 infection rates in Italy and New York both before and after face masks were made mandatory. The researchers calculated that wearing face masks prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between April 17 and May 9.

Read it this way: Those face masks prevented infections for the equivalent of the populations of Martinsville and Henry County. Does that bring it home for you?

So what are your reasons for your mask charade?

Vanity? Please.

You can’t breathe well? Maybe.

It’s too hot? Agreed.

It’s a violation of your personal and Constitutional rights? Balderdash.

This isn’t a constitutional test. More likely this is the Man Upstairs trying to see who indeed loves his fellow man.

And it’s time for you to face up to your responsibility, face up to your health, face up to your friends and families and the anonymous person who lives up the street.

We don’t want to see your face around here again – with or without a mask.

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The hopes and visions spelled out in the Declaration of Independence were about to be realized 239 years ago today. On August 1, 1781, British Gen. Lord Cornwallis marched his 8,000 troops to Yorktown and began his occupation of the city. It was a mistake. The move ended up leaving the general and his army trapped in the small Virginia seaport. By mid-October, Cornwallis was surrounded by forces led by Gen. George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Count de Rochambeau. At sea, the Comte de Grasse blockaded the British Navy in the York River. On Oct. 19, the British general surrendered. And, as Lafayette noted, liberty had its own country.

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