‘Just wear a damn mask!’

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Posted July 6, 2020 | By Brad Rogers

Everyone should just wear a damn mask!”

Librarians Kim Drexel, left, and Jessica Kelly, right, wear masks as they share a laugh as Michael Sunio, another librarian, center, serves a free dinner during the Summer BreakSpot free meals for children program at the Belleview Public Library in Belleview on June 30, 2020. The members of the Belleview Public Library staff were busy serving and giving away 50 free dinners for kids in Belleview on Tuesday evening. The Summer BreakSpot program is hosted by the Marion County Public Library System and has been sponsored by the USDA for the past three years. The meals were prepared by the Shores Assembly of God Church. The ongoing free meals program runs from June 8 to July 27 and is offered at seven Marion County libraries across the county. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

Those words last week by Florida’s senior U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, nailed it as he and other high-profile Republicans, heretofore reticent to promote the practice in deference to (or maybe fear of) the unmasked President Trump, began urging citizens to mask up for everyone’s sake. Rubio was joined by Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and others in the GOP in the new push to wear masks.

Rather weirdly, whether to wear a mask or not has become a political issue. Trump has even suggested people are wearing masks not to cover their noses for protection, but rather to thumb their noses at him.

That said, good for Rubio and Scott.

Among the medical and science community, there is little debate over whether wearing a mask in the middle of a pandemic is a good idea. Depending on the study you look at – and there are several – covering your face reduces your chances of contracting the coronavirus, which is spread mostly through water droplets spewing from our mouths, by 50 percent or more.

In other words, just wear a damn mask!

I bring this up because at a Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership event a couple weeks ago, dozens upon dozens of the community’s business leaders jammed into the relatively tight confines of the Brick City Center for the Arts in downtown Ocala. The event, sponsored by the Ocala Gazette, was to honor new City Manager Sandra Wilson and new City Councilman Ire Bethea. It was a lovely event for two nice people, but I’m pretty sure the gathering would have drawn Rubio’s ire. It was impossible to social distance. There was glad-handing, that is, handshaking and hugging, all about. And as for masks, well, let’s just say President Trump would’ve been proud.

I know we all are missing personal contact with our friends, but it nonetheless was odd behavior for the business crowd, whose greatest fear right now has to be another shutdown. Consider this: Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California-San Francisco, cited a recent international simulation that found if 80 percent of the population wore masks, it would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread than a strict lockdown.

So, if you want to avoid another lockdown, folks, just wear a damn mask!

Again, there is no debate about whether wearing a mask is a good idea. Just as there’s no debate over whether wearing a seat belt is a good idea. It’s a simple act of social responsibility. And growing numbers of Florida’s political leaders are realizing it. Since Florida has seen its COVID-19 numbers skyrocket to record levels in recent days, 18 of the state’s 67 counties have made wearing a mask in public indoor places mandatory, as have 46 cities.

Marion County and Ocala, to no one’s surprise, made neither list, nor don’t expect them to be added any time soon. But for the sake of your family, friends and co-workers, wear a mask. This isn’t a political issue and certainly not a matter of one’s constitutional rights. It’s merely a matter of simple respect for your fellow man that can help save lives and jobs.

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