Masking remains in effect in state

Published 9:13 pm Friday, March 19, 2021

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By Rick Smith

I was able to take a break recently and took my first flight in over a year and I saw an interesting comparison between our local food stores and hardware stores and the Atlanta airport.

Locally, I would say that 50 percent of the folks in town aren’t wearing masks yet everyone inside the busiest airport in the world ARE wearing masks.  Even on the tram between concourses known in Atlanta as the “Plane Train,” people were respectful and keeping a surprisingly good distance from one another. The escalator rides, normally jammed with a mass of humanity, was very calm and distance was main-tained. How does this happen? Could be that without wearing a mask, no one is allowed to travel. Maybe folks are just serious about getting things back to “normal” and this is a step in that direction.

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As I arrived at my destination, the Island of Oahu, the COVID experience was very different. For the first time since the pandemic struck, I was asked to complete “contact tracing” when I entered a restaurant or beachside establishment. Masks are required at all times, even outside, and the ordinance was actually being enforced. I inquired about the vaccine status on the island and still now, vaccines are only avail-able to those 75 and older. I spoke with several healthcare personnel and they are all anxious, like all of us, to get shots in arms. The statistics for Oahu (Honolulu) show that roughly 24,000 cases and 360 deaths have occurred on the island that has a population of just over 1 million. Contrast that with Alabama in our population of 4.7 million, and the total case count has surpassed 500,000 with over 10,000 deaths.

Gov. Ivey recently extended the mask order in Alabama through April 9, but she went on to say that she would not extend it again. Speaking to the fact that it is a matter of personal responsibility to do the right thing and continue wearing masks and washing hands and minding our distance from others even without the executive order. She said, “Alabamians are smart and use good common sense.”  Let’s prove her right and continue to do the right thing.

So, remember, Dr Seuss might say,

wear your mask on the train, wear you mask on the plane,

wear your mask when in a town, even if it makes you frown.

Rick E. Smith is chief executive officer at Troy Regional Medical Center