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Face mask mandates send strong message

Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee gave county mayors the authority to extend facemask mandates until the end of 2020. The present mandate is set to expire at the end of October.
A recent spike in Tennessee coronavirus cases is getting national attention. Consider:
• Tennessee has seen new COVID-19 cases grow at the fifth-fastest rate in the nation over the past two weeks – and Northeast Tennessee’s rate of increase has been almost twice that of Tennessee over the same period.
• On a per capita basis, the region’s seven-day average of new daily cases per 100,000 was 32.3. That is slightly above Tennessee’s average of 28.7 and nearly double the U.S. average of 16.7
• The Tennessee Dept. of Health reported an increase of 3,317 total cases of COVID-19 Monday, which is the largest single-day increase in new cases statewide since the pandemic began.
It’s been proven that by wearing masks, we help ourselves, help each other, and it’s the patriotic thing to do.
A public service announcement from the American Red Cross made a blunt statement: “The man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker.”
That PSA was issued in 1918, as the United States battled an influenza pandemic that would leave 675,000 people dead. Health officials urged Americans to cover their faces with masks, but many resisted, just like now, what they saw as a symbol of government overreach.
A century later, our country is again divided over the issue of mask-wearing. What should be a common-sense response to stopping the spread of coronavirus has turned into a new front in America’s culture wars. It would be easy to dismiss, like the so-called War on Christmas, if not for the high stakes involved. Covid-19 has already killed more than 210,000 Americans. Rather than waiting for a vaccine to save us, we need to focus on steps to stop the spread that are within our control.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said back in July that face coverings are “our major defense to prevent ourselves from getting this infection. If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next 4-6 weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground.”Instead, many parts of the U.S. have allowed the virus to stay on its feet and gather a second wind as fall weather sets in.
The coronavirus has put a strain on many in our society, financially, emotionally and psychologically.
Face masks are primarily designed to protect others from you. Wearing the mask may be little protection from you contracting the virus from someone not wearing a mask, but it can prevent you from spreading the coronavirus to others. Wearing a face mask in settings where you are around other people makes as much sense as social distancing, washing hands and other aspects of the coronavirus safety protocol. Everything that can be done to prevent the spread of the virus should be done.
The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings. Doing so is as much about respect for the safety of others as it is any law mandating masks or even an effort to protect yourself.
Yes, we may have pandemic fatigue, but we must keep fighting. If we don’t, it wins.