Editorial: When a life is at risk people do amazing things; why not this?
Since the late 1800s, the Courier has reported numerous acts of heroic togetherness when someone's life was in danger. There have been times when strangers — men, women, young and old —lifted cars completely off the ground in unison, suspending the vehicles long enough for others to pull a child or senior citizen to safety.
It warms our hearts to know that people are willing to work together and go to great lengths to save someone when they are vulnerable to death. This is why we have a difficult time understanding why some people are so adamantly opposed to doing a simple act that could save a life — something as easy as putting on a face mask in public to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
This week, states across the country have broken new case records. The number of U.S. citizens hospitalized with COVID-19 have reached record levels and more than a million new cases were confirmed in November. The death toll in America is approaching 250,000 and rising to an average of more than 900 a day as new spikes are being reported nationwide. Our state and county numbers also reflect this upward trend. Experts are warning that hospitals across the country could soon be overwhelmed.
In the midst of all this, we received a letter yesterday from Lexi Rindone, a 2011 Prescott High School graduate who is currently a PhD Student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She wrote:
"As a young scientist, I can attest from firsthand experience that masks are effective in mitigating the spread of this virus. COVID-19 spreads primarily by air — as opposed to surface contact — and there is an emerging consensus in the scientific community that the virus lingers in the air for extended periods of time. This is why COVID-19 spreads easily indoors, especially when combined with crowding and poor ventilation. Masks stop respiratory droplets from being released into the air and significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
“Accordingly, regions with universal mask policies have been more successful at mitigating COVID-19 than those without such mandates. We have seen this play out in Arizona: Maricopa County significantly reduced COVID-19 infections after it instituted a mask mandate in June."
Health experts around the world confirm what Lexi explained.
Additionally, this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that new studies indicate masks protect both the wearers and those around them from coronavirus transmission.
It was previously thought the main benefit of wearing a mask was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others. But the CDC's new guidance suggests cloth masks also act as a "source control and personal protection for the mask wearer" by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others.
The CDC reports that these numerous new studies show that in various instances, cloth masks can reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70%.
Lexi's letter also carried this admonition to local civic leaders: "I admit, masks can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to wear. However, they will help prevent you, your family and other community members from contracting COVID-19. I encourage Prescott to adopt a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces to protect its citizens from this deadly disease."
We support Lexi's admonition. We are not suggesting a shutdown, curfews or some other drastic measure. We are simply asking that local leaders consider the benefits of possibly reducing the spread by 70% through a mask mandate — a simple act that we can all do together to help save lives.