Editorial: Mask up to open up

With Gov. Phil Scott’s declaration that everyone in the state should don facemasks when inside public establishments and when social distancing is not possible outside, Vermont just might be one of the few states to stay ahead of this pandemic’s rapid spread.

The governor’s timing was particularly relevant as college towns and ski resorts faced the daunting task of having people comply with wearing a mask absent a statewide policy.

For those readers who may be riding the fence on the effectiveness of wearing a mask, just look at the proof: Throughout the world, in areas where the public has diligently worn facemasks the rate of spread is far lower than in areas in which people don’t. It should be a no-brainer. 

The virus spreads from water droplets sprayed from the mouth, as well as via smaller droplets in the air that can hang around inside spaces for 10-15 minutes or longer and drift throughout a room. If we can limit the spread of those droplets (and masks serve that purpose), we lessen the exposure.

Not that wearing a mask is a cure-all; the science is clear there, too. 

Folks who wear masks improperly, don’t clean them regularly, or perhaps think that a mask will prevent exposure when standing next to an infected person for minutes, will likely compromise the benefit masks provide. But wearing masks properly and using a little common sense will definitely help slow the spread. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that wearing a mask not only helps prevent the spread, but also helps protect the mask-wearer from contracting the disease.

That’s the medical reason to wear a mask. 

The political reason to wear a mask is even simpler: it helps the business community and provides more individual freedom.

What we know is that if the pandemic spreads out of control, those in power have little choice but to shut down more of the local economy and limit individual freedoms until the virus is brought under control. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Holcombe captures this sentiment best in her campaign’s slogan: “Mask Up To Open Up.” It’s the right message. 

If you’re a person who believes in individual freedoms, then help keep the virus in check. Follow the governor’s mask-wearing mandate with a smile, knowing that what you’re really doing is maintaining the freedom to move around, see friends while social distancing, and helping our business community remain open and as financially sound as possible. 

Angelo Lynn

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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