It’s been a year since all our lives changed in ways we never could have imagined. Yet, we are still dealing with COVID-19 today. Bemidji has fared remarkably well compared to many other communities, but there is room for improvement.

To keep schools, restaurants and local businesses open, we need to keep our infection numbers under control. The best way for you to help is by wearing a mask. Numerous studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have reliably shown that masking reduces virus transmission by 80%.

Because COVID-19 patients can be asymptomatic, it’s very difficult to know who is contagious without testing. Therefore, the best course of action is for everyone to take precautions. By wearing a mask for 20 minutes while you’re in the grocery store, you could be saving lives.

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The primary function of a facemask is source control, meaning that it only provides limited protection to the wearer, but it protects individuals around the wearer from being exposed to their aerosols; droplets exhaled whenever we breathe or speak. Wearing a mask shows that you are selfless. It shows that you care about the safety of people around you.

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A phrase that anti-maskers often repeat is that they have chosen not to “live in fear.” One does not wear a seat belt because they are “living in fear” of a car accident. One wears a seat belt both because it’s the smart thing to do, and because it’s the law. The same is true of wearing a mask.

The fault in our analogy is that a seat belt is worn to protect one’s self, while a mask is worn primarily to protect others. Masking up is about having humility to care about the well-being of society over one’s self. Living in fear may be unpleasant, but we must not allow ourselves to live in ignorance.

All of us benefit by putting the pandemic behind us. We all want our community restaurants and businesses to stay open, and we’re sure you are missing being able to travel and visit your families. If for no other reason, we implore you to wear a mask for the sake of your children’s education.

We want to keep schools open, and we need your help. Please wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth at all times in public spaces, do your part to help your community!

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