No return to normal


Kokomo Tribune

After months of limits on patrons in businesses, restaurants and bars and a ban on large public gatherings, Gov. Eric Holcomb last week moved Indiana into Stage 5 of his reopening plan.

At a press conference Sept. 28, Holcomb pointed out the state positivity rate had been around 4%, so the time was right to move the state toward more normal day-to-day activity.

Holcomb’s mask mandate is still in effect, though. Wearing face coverings and keeping a 6-foot distance between ourselves and others remain imperative. More social mobility means more opportunity for the virus to spread.

There’s still a huge obstacle to Holcomb’s Stage 5 plan: the many Hoosiers who find face coverings too uncomfortable or see the adoption of mask-wearing through a political prism.

Some wear the mask like the chin strap to a helmet. Others don’t bother putting one on at convenience stores. Still others leave theirs at home or in their car, just to show they aren’t afraid of COVID-19.

“There are some folks who don’t believe it helps,” Holcomb said of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus early last month. “I would disagree and offer science as a counterargument to that.”

Clearly, the governor is optimistic. He believes Hoosiers who currently refuse to wear face masks can be educated into changing their attitude.

Perhaps that is possible. If so, evidence is abundant to educate those needing it.

Public health officials and agencies, scientists and doctors have overwhelmingly stated repeatedly in recent months that face masks are effective in mitigating the transmission of the virus. Aerosols and droplets from coughs, sneezes or loud talking can spread the coronavirus, and a face mask can reduce their dispersal, researchers have concluded.

Forsaking face coverings in public will lead only to more COVID cases and ultimately more deaths. So for the sake of those recently opened businesses — and for the benefit of other customers — wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth in public.

Otherwise, Indiana will be back to Stage 4.5 before you know it.

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