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OPINION

Now more than ever, masks make sense

Brandon Case
Pratt Tribune
Pratt community member Brandon Case, left, enjoys cycling and hanging out with friends regularly, when not at work, mask free until April of this year. He asks others to join him in masking up to help stop the local spread of the coronavirus.

As an active person in Pratt County, employed here, work here, enjoy outdoor exercising here, I have lived my life mask-free until this year. For Pratt, Kiowa, and Stafford counties, things aren’t too bad, yet, insofar as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned. But will the situation worsen? If one listens to the numbers reports, they are not going in the right direction.

What can we do to help slow the spread of the coronavirus to our friends and family? Well, that leads to another question: to mask or not to mask? 

If you have been out and about in Pratt lately, you may have noticed that there are some people wearing masks. In mid-April, when I first started wearing a mask, there were very few others trying it. While it is true that N-95 masks are the most effective (and most difficult to find) in stopping free-floating COVID-19 droplets from entering your respiratory system, any mask has potential in the battle against the pandemic.

I’m still wearing mine. Not the same one, of course, but I believe it is now more important than ever before.

If you wear a mask when you are near others while out in public, you may be helping to prevent the spread of infection, if you do not yet realize you have the virus or otherwise are an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.

Masking has proven effective for reducing spread of COVID-19 in densely populated countries like the Czech Republic (almost 1/3 the size of Kansas with over three times the population).  A couple of weeks ago, a friend who lives there sent me a YouTube video which explained what his country was doing differently than many others at that point. The central European country requires its citizens to wear a mask when outside of the home, punishable by a fine equivalent to about $400 U.S. As the narrator of the video states at one point, “When we both have a facemask, I protect you, you protect me. And we are both safe.” The result of this, combined with other measures, has been a significant reduction in the rate of transmission of the disease, compared to many other countries. At this point, the Czech Republic is loosening restrictions, including travel. 

So, maybe wearing a mask isn’t such a bad idea after all, if it will help to prevent the (unbeknownst) infection of our fellow Kansans, our fellow Prattans. 

Besides that, this is allergy season, so wearing a mask might be helpful there too. 

On April 15 I started wearing a mask when outside of my office or away from home, except for exercising on my bicycle, which takes me outside of town. It is a little uncomfortable to wear a facemask while commuting to work on a bicycle, but, like anything, one can get used to it over time.

Will you join me in this effort to slow the spread of the virus in Pratt, Stafford, Kiowa counties and the rest of Kansas?