Face masks: Why wear them in public?

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Slowing the spread of coronavirus requires effort on everyone’s part, especially as Louisiana enters phase one of the “Open Safely” initiative.

Source: KALB

“You need to do what you got to do,” said local citizen Tony Forrest.

Although the new orders under this phase don’t require all citizens to wear masks, it’s highly recommended by health experts. Rapides Public Health Unit Director Dr. David Holcombe compared face masks to avoiding second-hand smoke.

“We can’t prevent people from smoking either. But we can prevent them from smoking in bars and in certain public places and that has generally been accepted as a proper thing to do,” Dr. Holcombe said. “And people have followed those rules. It’s no different. You should wear a mask.”

But it is required in places like hospitals and courthouses, and people have their own opinions on the matter.

“Generally, I wouldn’t wear a mask,” said local resident Felicia Rosenthal. “But, like I say, if it’s something that we have to do to enter a place or a business, I’m open to it.”

Is it infringing on constitutional rights?

“If it keeps you from surviving and living your life according to your constitutional rights, I think there’s a very fine line,” Forrest said.

Most health experts say it’s not.

“It’s not a symbol of government oppression, it’s not a symbol of infringement on rights,” said Holcombe. “It’s a public health measure to prevent the transmission of COVID.”

Wearing masks has never been a social norm in the U.S., but according to Holcombe, that will need to change, because many people don’t even they’re carrying the virus.

“We are testing about 500 people a week,” explained Holcombe. “Of those, we have about ten percent of those people who are positive. And in that group, there’s probably five or ten percent who have no symptoms at all and are positive.”

Ultimately, each individual makes the choice for himself whether or not to wear a mask, but also, whether or not to look out for others.

“A mask protects you from other people and other people from you because you may be infected without knowing it…” Holcombe said. “Endangering other people with irresponsible behavior is not acceptable.”

If you need a mask and would like to make your own, visit the link in the ‘related links’ section of this page.

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