Record editorial: Wear a mask. It’s about respect.
They’re uncomfortable. They’re stuffy. They’re downright annoying. And you’d have a hard time finding someone who enjoys wearing one.
Yet, they also work.
That’s why national, state and local health experts have spent the last couple of months imploring people to wear masks in public whenever maintaining social distance isn’t possible. Doing so slows the transmission of the coronavirus and, by extension, saves lives.
But stepping into a grocery store in Summit County or nearly any other highly trafficked public place makes it obvious: Not enough people are heeding the advice.
In Park City, the situation seemed to reach a new low June 14, during the first pedestrian-only day on Main Street. An informal sample taken by The Park Record that day found that only roughly one in five people were wearing a mask. Members of the Park City Council apparently noticed a similar trend and, during a public meeting last week, expressed consternation over the lack of face coverings on Main Street.
Their frustration is warranted. Though masks are not mandatory in Summit County or the rest of Utah, they need to be ubiquitous. That goes for both residents and visitors, because the moment we step foot outside our homes during the pandemic we all share the responsibility of ensuring the safety of those around us.
Contrary to what some seem to believe, the worst of the pandemic is not over.
In reality, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Utah has never been higher. The state is experiencing a massive surge in cases that Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist, warned in a recent memo could overwhelm hospitals within weeks and may even lead to “a complete shutdown” of the economy. The situation in Summit County is better than in many neighboring areas, but county Health Director Rich Bullough echoed Dunn’s concerns Monday, saying “I think something drastic needs to occur for us to refocus the efforts of the community.”
One of the primary suggestions from both Dunn and Bullough? That’s right: Wear a mask.
There is little justification for not doing so, and the excuses some have concocted are weak. No, being asked to wear a mask — or being required to at some businesses — is not an assault on individual liberty, as many skeptics have claimed. Nor is wearing one a step only high-risk individuals or others worried about contracting the virus need to take.
Because here’s the thing: We shouldn’t be thinking about ourselves when we decide whether or not to mask up. It’s meant to safeguard the people we come into close contact with and, ultimately, slow the spread of COVID-19.
It’s not about personal freedom, or even personal preference.
It’s about respect. It’s about protecting others. It’s about making a small, simple sacrifice for the good of the community.
And after not being as diligent about it in recent weeks as we should be, it’s about time all of us take masking up more seriously.
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