Let’s be frank: Skagit County’s COVID-19 numbers are increasing dangerously and our hopes to move to Phase 3 soon are fading further into the distance.
Skagit County businesses need your help. We are all impatient for businesses to reopen, events to take place and the economy to return to “normal.” We want this pandemic to be over. There is one very simple, painless thing everyone can do to help, even if you are not a doctor or scientist.
You may have seen a new joint effort among EDASC, the county and chambers of commerce to #SaveSkagitBusinesses by wearing masks.
If not, here is one of the promotional images:
As a community, we need to band together and participate in the most effective scientific intervention known to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Wear a mask.
Wear one when you go grocery shopping.
Wear one when picking up a to-go order.
Wear one whenever you might come within 6 feet of another person you don’t live with.
Here’s the simple science on wearing a mask. If I am infected with COVID-19 and wearing a mask, others around me are much less likely to be infected. New research also suggests that the risk of infection to the wearer is decreased by 65 percent. If you and I are both wearing masks, the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 between either of us is exponentially diminished.
Let’s take a look at a recent real-life example of effective mask-wearing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The scenario: two asymptomatic hair stylists infected with COVID-19 who wore cloth face coverings exposed 139 clients, all of whom were also wearing face masks.
Guess how many clients tested positive for COVID-19?
That’s why EDASC and our partners are urging everyone to wear a mask when social distancing cannot be maintained. Obviously, when you are feeling ill, you should stay home to not infect others. The biggest transmission problem with the novel coronavirus, however, is people spreading the disease when they don’t even have symptoms yet.
While Skagit County floats in Phase 2, businesses and workers are struggling.
Libraries are closed. Restaurants and taverns are at half capacity. In-door theaters are shuttered. Events are cancelled. Gyms and other outdoor group sports activities are at low capacity. Business as we know it is massively altered and this threatens the economic health of our neighbors and our entire community.
And we haven’t even mentioned the obvious and staggering health toll on our community and neighbors. Seventeen have died in Skagit County from COVID-19 with 655 confirmed cases as of this writing. Beyond that, many survivors suffer lasting impacts and organ damage.
For those who don’t think this pandemic is worth the trouble of wearing a mask, tell that to those who have fallen ill, have lost loved ones, or have seen friends and family suffer and hospitalized because of this virus. Tell that to the small businesses owners, employees, and families struggling to make ends meet.
Wearing a mask has inexplicably become dangerously politicized. This is a public health and economic issue, so everyone should be doing their part to #SaveSkagitBusinesses and look out for your health and that of your neighbors. The virus doesn’t care who’s in charge. At this moment, the virus is in charge. We can only react as intelligently as possible to limit its spread and finally bring it under control.
As an aside, I studied constitutional law and practiced law for over 20 years. There is no constitutionally guaranteed right to spread disease to your fellow human beings. We already understand that laws preventing smoking in public protect other people’s health, as do laws regulating vehicle speed, criminalizing driving while drunk and (for your own health) requiring seat belts and motorcycle helmets. This should be regarded the same.
To the Skagitonians already wearing masks: thank you for caring about your fellow human beings and helping slow the spread of coronavirus. To those on the fence: please make a conscious and consistent effort to help stamp out this virus and keep it from running rampant across our community.
Wear your mask.