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Mask up, Alabama, for all of us

As we start the first week of Governor Ivey’s newest initiative calling on every Alabamian to wear a face covering / mask when in a public setting, I am cautiously optimistic that the curve will flatten. For months now, we have all been told that social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing a mask does make a difference. Why then have we as the general public, been so reluctant to do these things? It has only been in the past 2 weeks that as I visit the hardware store to get my weekend project supplies or the supermarket to get my weekend grilling supplies, that I have seen an increase in the number of patrons wearing a mask. Now the employees at both aforementioned businesses have been masked, but not the customers. Why? Is it the conspiracy theorists who continue to say it is a hoax? Is it too hot to protect yourself? Does it not look “cool”? Regardless of the reason, the experts have constantly said the same things. We are now 2 weeks post-holiday and the state added nearly 5800 cases over the weekend. I do not see this as a coincidence, but as a fact of science. Holiday pool parties, celebrating graduations with friends and crowds at the beaches all play a part in the spread of COVID-19. I have a great friend and healthcare colleague who I speak with regularly announce to me that his 18-year-old, 2020 graduate, had tested positive for the coronavirus. He went on to say that his son’s girlfriend was also positive. I had to suppress a less than friendly response because I was thinking back to last week when he shared a photo from their graduation party where 14 of the 2020 classmates were enjoying themselves. I asked how many people in that photo were also positive and I think he got my point when he said 5 were positive…for now. That percentage, while high, is right on target of where our state is testing…30% of the state’s positive results have been reported in the past 14 days. I say it is time for each of us to do our part. Wear your mask, watch your distance, and Wash your hands!

Rick Smith is CEO of Troy Regional Medical Center.

Mask Up Alabama. Help keep yourself and each other safe.