EDITORIAL: Mandate or not, masks to be used
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EDITORIAL: Mandate or not, masks to be used

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The debate over face masks intensifies as coronavirus cases surge. A trip outside of home indicates many people are following advice and wearing masks to protect themselves and others. But many are not.

Some say all people should be ordered to wear masks, with governments mandating such in some states and locales. In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster is among those resisting issuing an order to wear masks in public, saying there are constitutional concerns with doing so and enforcement is impractical. In the cities of Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, leaders disagree as they have ordered use of masks.

No matter where you stand on mandates, with the July 4th weekend and its activities approaching, getting more people to comply with the advice to stop the spread of the coronavirus takes on particular urgency. That means practicing social distancing and washing hands frequently. And using masks.

Most people will not have access to surgical-grade masks, so that means they will be using cloth masks either purchased or made. These are considered primarily a way to stop a person with the virus from spreading it to others, an important aspect of controlling the virus as an increasing number of people do not know they are positive for the coronavirus.

If you don’t have a mask, the Mayo Clinic advises: “Cloth masks are cheap and simple to make. Instructions are easy to find online. Masks can be made from common materials, such as sheets made of tightly woven cotton. The CDC website even includes directions for no-sew masks made from bandannas and T-shirts. Cloth masks should include multiple layers of fabric.”

And once you have your mask, it’s important to wear it correctly and follow safety guidelines. More advice from mayoclinic.org:

• Place your mask over your mouth and nose.

• Tie it behind your head or use ear loops and make sure it's snug.

• Don't touch your mask while wearing it.

• If you accidentally touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.

• Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.

• Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.

• Regularly wash your mask with soap and water in the washing machine. It's fine to launder it with other clothes.

• Don't put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.

• Don't put masks on children under 2 years of age.

• Don't use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.

It is clear some people see the coronavirus as more of a threat than others. But the numbers don’t lie. South Carolina has a new problem with cases, but the state is not prepared to be shut down again. That means individuals taking action.

Today and beyond, all should be wearing masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

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