By mandate or not, masks are going to be a part of life for the foreseeable future. Call it just one of the components of a new reality brought on by COVID-19.
One has only to look at the spread of the coronavirus on college campuses where students have returned to see how important it is to take every preventive step possible. Wearing a mask is the best way to stop you from spreading the coronavirus to someone. Others with masks protect you as the goal is to block the large droplets generated by a cough or a sneeze, as well as the airborne particles that we produce as we speak and exhale.
Local mask mandates are being extended. Orangeburg County Council voted this past week to keep its ordinance in place for another 60 days. Orangeburg City Council previously decided its mask ordinance would extend 61 days beyond July 27.
The ordinances are specific in their guidelines on when a mask must be worn, but the best approach all can take is to know that wearing a mask is mandatory when you are in contact with other people in public places. If you are outdoors or in unenclosed places and 6 feet apart from anyone, no mask is required.
What gets too little emphasis is that masks not worn and handled properly are little protection.
The Centers for Disease Control advises:
• Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
• Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
• Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
• The mask should cover from below your chin to above your nose, and be pinched to fit the bridge of your nose snugly.
• Don’t touch the mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.
• In taking off the mask, untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
• Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
• Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing and wash your hands immediately after removing.
• Place the mask in the washing machine.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster is among state chief executives having resisted statewide mask mandates, saying such laws are essentially unenforceable. But he has not actively opposed localities implementing the mandates. So we move ahead in a masked world understanding that the good thing about the laws are that most people will obey them.
That can mean fewer people contracting COVID-19 and, hopefully, ending this plague sooner rather than later.
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