Letter: Routt Countians should wear DIY masks in public places | SteamboatToday.com
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Letter: Routt Countians should wear DIY masks in public places

From now on, I will be wearing a DIY mask when I go to a public place, such as a grocery store, post office or to ride the bus. I encourage others to do so as well. Let me tell you why.

I began as a mask skeptic. But the science and empirical evidence is overwhelming. As recent articles in The New York Times and Science Magazine show, many U.S. health experts are starting to embrace the idea of widespread public masks use to reduce public contagion.

It’s important to note that masks aren’t just about the wearer. It’s also about others. The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend wearing of masks by all infected persons. But public health experts also point out that a large portion of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, allowing the disease to be passed along by these inadvertent carriers.

This is why near-universal usage of masks is a key attribute to all successful countries. There are no exceptions. In South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, there is no lockdown, but COVID-19 is being controlled. Ubiquitous mask wearing is one key reason why. The Czech Republic went from no mask usage to nearly 100% usage in 10 days after masks were mandated. This has been an important factor for their lower contagion rate than other European countries.

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Why do masks help? A key transmission method of COVID-19 is by talking, coughing and sneezing. This creates moisture droplets, much larger than the virus itself, that infect others. A Cambridge study found that household cotton fabric can be effective in blocking particles as small as 0.02 microns. This allows the public to use homemade masks to slow the contagion rate, while reserving the critical supply of N95 masks for health care workers. They rightfully have priority for those masks.

Wearing masks is not a substitute for reducing exposure, social distancing and proper hygiene. It’s an additional weapon against the virus. We are inflicting incredible economic pain to deal with this virus. The cost of a mask is minuscule in comparison but delivers huge returns. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity.

Wearing a mask is not a sign of fear; it is a sign of caring and social responsibility. The Czech slogan is “your mask protects me, my mask protects you.” 

With masks, we will save lives — Routt County lives.

Let’s do this, Routt County. Let’s all wear masks in public places.

Larry Desjardin
Steamboat Springs


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