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The Editor's View: Mask wearing against diseases

April 26, 2021

By Gerald Hay

Gerald HayMasks have been mandated to be part of our everyday routine for more than a year. That may change as we head into summer, but can mask-wearing become a habit for some people post-pandemic and for other future health issues?

I hope so. So do my friends in public health. They strongly recommend wearing masks even after local mandates end.

When it comes to my health and wellbeing as a twotime cancer survivor, I always have turned to my doctors and health experts for guidance and advice. I have been fully inoculated (both shots) against COVID-19, but still choose to wear a mask in certain situations such as in crowds. I still practice social distancing and wash my hands often.

We cannot throw caution to the wind with the real possibility of possible surges in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We need to self-protect against all contagious diseases. There remains a cheap, simple preventive method against viral illnesses: face coverings.

Doctors say wearing a face mask is a way to protect those around you. It’s a good idea, even if it’s just a sniffle, a cough, the flu and the common cold. It’s also a main defense in stopping the
spread of the coronavirus and its variants.

Not only are face masks important but wearing them properly is equally important. We heard from several readers about the cover photo choice in the last issue of The Best Times (an error in judgment) when the face mask wearer did not fully cover her nose.

An illustration showing how to properly wear a mask over your nose and mouthFace covering and proper mask wearing are essential, with the CDC recommending:

  • Completely covering your nose and mouth.
  • Two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face with no gaps.
  • A nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.

The CDC continually encourages us to practice social distancing, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. If sick, stay home and away from others.

Please, get a vaccination with three vaccines available. Please remember, vaccines only work when they become vaccinations against a disease. P.S.: Don’t forget to also get vaccinated against shingles and the annual flu.

There are so many reasons people wear face masks. They have a disease that puts them at greater risk for catching something. They have a cold or flu. They’re going through treatment for cancer or other life-threatening diseases. They have weakened immune systems from aging or past health challenges.

It comes down to social responsibility in time of a general health crisis and individual sickness or medical issues. Mask wearers may or may not have a contagious something and don’t want to give it to someone else, especially family members, friends, co-workers or anyone else. That’s being responsible and cautious.

Don’t get me wrong. If you don’t like wearing a mask, welcome to the club: Nobody does, but it’s an individual free will and freedom to do so.

If you think it offers no health benefit when ill or when at risk of being infected with a contagious disease, think again.

According to the CDC, masks are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout or sing from affecting others and vice versa, helping to stop droplets from impacting you. Droplets spread COVID-19, but viral viruses also cause the flu, common cold, chickenpox, measles, rubella, mumps, shingles, even warts and HIV/AIDS, to name a few.

Face masks can make a difference against the health risk from contagious diseases, including the coronavirus.

Stay well.

Be safe.

Gerald Hay is the editor of The Best Times.