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To mask or not to mask?

EDITOR:

Delta County now has the most COVID-19 cases and related deaths in the U.P. There have been over 225,000 deaths in the country. There are also survivors left with debilitating after-effects including dementia, destroyed lungs, and other organ failures. One of my friends is in the hospital with COVID-19 and the disease has affected her heart.

My daughter lives in a city with rates that are rapidly decreasing. Why the difference? Masks! People in areas with high rates of infection, like Delta County, don’t wear masks. I was shocked by how many of our businesses are not encouraging mask wearing. However, we do have stores that are requiring masks including Elmers, Walmart, Meijers, and Menards and people are following their guidelines. But we need all businesses to join them to keep our community healthy.

Social distancing and wearing masks are necessary to keep our community safe and allow businesses and schools to stay open. Not only does this help prevent an infected person from spreading the disease to others, it also adds a layer of protection from breathing in droplets suspended in the air when other people talk, sneeze, or cough.

I’ve also seen people wearing masks pulled down below their nose. I realize that it is uncomfortable for workers who are required to wear masks all day but researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found the cells that line the nose were significantly more likely to become infected and spread virus than the throat or lungs. When it comes to COVID-19, the nose is the front door to our body.

A recent model of COVID-19 in the United States projected over a half million deaths by the end of February. Their paper also reported that if 95% of Americans would wear masks, 130,000 deaths could be prevented. According to Christopher Murray, lead author and director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics, “We think the key point here is that there’s a huge winter surge coming… but expanding mask use is one of the easy wins for the United States.”

Unfortunately, our president has modeled irresponsible behavior that goes against the recommendations of scientists, doctors, and epidemiologists. His lack of leadership during this pandemic has put our country in a dangerous situation. We need to elect Joe Biden for the future safety of our country.

Kristine Paulsen

Bark River

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