My Turn: It makes no sense to refuse to wear a mask

For the Monitor
Published: 11/22/2020 6:20:30 AM
Modified: 11/22/2020 6:20:14 AM

The sign is familiar to all of us: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” It is often posted at the entrance to restaurants with shops particularly in resort areas where people are coming off the beach. I have never heard an argument about infringing on individual rights by requiring them to put a shirt or shoes on. It is just accepted.

We are now in the midst of a global pandemic that hit the United States particularly hard with 250,000 deaths since it started. The data that social distancing works is not disputed in the scientific and medical communities although somehow this has become a bizarre political topic. The encouraging news of several potential vaccines being available in the next few months is truly exciting but it does not change the reality that we are seeing in excess of a thousand individuals dying each day in the United States.

The talk about just letting COVID happen to allow the United States to get herd immunity is not an attractive option given the number of deaths that would occur and the overwhelming impact on the health care system.

The situation in New Hampshire is better than many areas but our numbers are rapidly increasing. Many of us have been in situations where we entered an establishment and some individuals are not wearing masks. This makes no sense. Unfortunately these individuals are not just assuming increased risk for themselves but they are increasing the risk of individuals around them.

We know that many people shed virus when they do not have symptoms and thereby can expose people. One individual who passes on this virus will eventually be responsible for another’s death. That is the nature of the disease and of the pandemic.

Reinforcement of policies requiring masking and social distancing until we can have vaccine distributed to a large percentage of the population just makes sense. Ideally, this should be coming from national and state leaders and the concept of a “mandatory” mask policy should be viewed as a bridge to reduce deaths and prevent overwhelming the health care system.

We all are fatigued by the pandemic, we all miss social interactions and we all want this to be over. There is hope, please do the right thing.

Wearing a mask and social distancing can save your life in the life of somebody close to you. Be safe.

(Dr. Paul R. Clark of Bow is a doctor of internal medicine at Concord Hospital.)


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