Not Letting Down Our Guard

We’re weary. We’re tired of the isolation. We miss going places with our friends. We miss watching sports, on TV or in-person, and seeing first-run movies at the local cinema. Most of all, we miss human touch, like a handshake or a hug.

We wish this pandemic would just go away. We long so much to go back to life as it was, before we became acquainted with the concepts of social distancing and sheltering in place. Are all of these recommended practices, such as wearing face masks in public, frequent use of hand sanitizer and avoiding large gatherings even worth it?

Three months of these dastardly practices is quite enough. Can’t we just disregard the threat of COVID-19 and resume our lives of normalcy?

Unfortunately, we can’t just wish the coronavirus away. It remains a very real threat and now is not the time to let down our guard. We’ve made too much progress to end the fight prematurely. By following practices recommended by those with expertise in medical science, we have been very successful at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

While the numbers we have experienced, nationwide and across the state, have been devastating, we have managed to avoid overwhelming our health care system, which was a very realistic fear at the outset of the pandemic. We managed this by essentially shutting down our economy temporarily and by having ordinary citizens sheltering in place and, when venturing out in public, adhering to social distancing practices.

Especially important to these efforts has been adherence to the recommendation to wear face masks when out in public. A new study published in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal, conducted by University of Iowa professors Wei Lyu and George Wehby offers proof that wearing face masks can be an effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The study examined the effects of face mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia between April 1 and May 21. The results showed that daily cases of coronavirus declined by 2 percent during this time period, indicating that between 230,000 and 450,000 cases may have been averted.

At a time when we’re experiencing a great divide politically, this division should not extend to how we respond to the pandemic. Whether or not we wear face masks in public or practice social distancing should not be a reflection of our political affiliation. We should all agree that we want to contain the coronavirus and protect the well-being of ourselves and our fellow citizens.

Many states that rushed to reopen their economies are now experiencing new surges in the spread of COVID-19. Those states ought to revisit their policies and take measures to stem the tide of these outbreaks. Virginia has been among the states that have been more cautious in its reopening phases, and among those that have mandated face mask use, resulting, thus far, in fewer new surges. Hopefully, our state will continue to follow these approaches.

Collectively and individually, we cannot afford to grow complacent. COVID-19 continues to be very contagious and hundreds are still dying daily from it across the country. All of us must continue to follow the advice of the experts who tell us COVID-19 is likely to remain a real threat for quite some time. It could be next year before we have a vaccine or effective courses of treatment. In the meantime, we should continue to practice social distancing and other guidelines of the Center for Disease Control, including the wearing of face masks in public.

We are all anxious to see an end to the pandemic but we must persevere to see it through to the safest possible conclusion.

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Latest articles