As Covid-19 cases surge, it’s time to push local officials into making masks in public mandatory.
Originally published by the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) on June 24, 2020
The Lee County numbers confirm the significant and worrisome rise in COVID–19 cases. Moreover, the United States currently has the highest reported number of confirmed cases with more than 2.1 million. However, due to a lack of testing, the number of actual cases may be far higher. More than 120,000 people in the United States have died from the disease.
As the United States and Lee County faces an even more increasing number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started advising all Americans to wear face masks. Experts also say COVID-19 is two to three times more contagious than flu so that the virus can spread rapidly from person to person from gatherings.
According to the advisory published by the CDC, “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting nearby — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.”
PROTECTING OTHERS, NOT YOU
Control of the virus in other countries is, in part, likely the result of face masks. Masks should be worn anytime you are in public, or when people are nearby. Masks act as a physical barrier to protect you and others from viral and bacterial particulates. Many people unknowingly infect others by going out and spreading germs by coughing or touching others.
Wearing a mask is appropriate for two reasons. It’s going to cut down 95 percent of the breathing that sends the virus up to 6 feet away in a room, and also will reduce oral transmission by preventing the virus from getting into your nose or mouth if you touch a contaminated surface and then your face. Mask wearing plays an essential role in promoting a sense of community solidarity and a collective effort in fighting diseases like coronavirus.
You can go out in public areas without a mask if there is no one nearby. Otherwise, regardless if it’s close quarters or spaced out, you should wear a mask with others around. Wearing a face mask is a precaution and courtesy to yourself and those nearby you.
STAY VIGILANT ON OTHER MEASURES
What wearing a mask won’t do, however, is take the place of other critical COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as social distancing and handwashing. Also, just as important as wearing a mask is proper handling when using them. Especially essential is hand hygiene. Avoid handling the cloth without washing your hands. Be careful when taking it off to handle the mask by the bands, not the fabric.
There is a compelling case to require face masks during this pandemic. Also, on June 19, 2020, the president of the Florida Medical Association advised local governments to require the use of masks in public as coronavirus cases continue to rise. The American Medical Association, of which the Florida organization is a chapter, also endorses CDC guidelines on face masks in public.
THERE ARE NO LEGAL OBSTACLES TO LOCAL OR COUNTY OFFICIALS MANDATING FACE MASKS
At a news conference on Friday (6/19/20), Governor DeSantis said people need to abide by local mask-wearing requirements and that the state would not overrule local governments when it comes to requiring masks to be worn in public.
For example, Orange County FL mayor, and Chair of the County Board of Commissioners, Jerry Demings recently signed an executive order that makes it mandatory for people in the county to wear facial coverings starting June 20, 2020, until further notice.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We strongly encourage you to contact your local and Lee County government representatives requesting a mandate to wear face masks in your local community and Lee County. Contact all the legislators below that represent you using the forms. Emails like there are most effective if you personalize the message.
The Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) is a network of communities and organizations working together to serve as the “Voice of the People” to advocate for positive change. Visit their website at https://EsteroToday.com to subscribe to their mailing list, or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/esterofl/