Editorial: Want fewer virus rules? Wear your masks

The Editorial Advisory Board
Topeka Capital-Journal

Here’s the bad news.

Across the nation, we’re seeing new records set for COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, more than 40,000 were reported. Kansas has experienced an uptick as well, with 178 new cases listed on Tuesday alone. Gov. Laura Kelly has now urged local officials to remain in phase 3 of her reopening plan, delaying further loosening of restrictions until July 6.

We’ve so far been spared the dramatic upswings of such states as Arizona, Florida and California. But that doesn’t mean the numbers can’t — or won’t — track higher.

Here’s the good news.

We know how to tackle this problem. We have proven tools at the ready. Wearing a cloth mask whenever indoors, for instance, will reduce spread. Yes, it can protect you from catching the virus to an extent, but more importantly it can prevent you from transmitting the virus if you’re an asymptomatic or presymptomatic carrier.

We know that social distancing works, too. Avoid crowds, particularly indoors or with people who don’t cover their faces. Spend more time at home and less with people you don’t know.

These tactics reduced the spread of COVID-19 the first time. They reduced the toll of the disease nationally. They allowed us to begin reopening.

But here’s the thing: These limitations become more important as we reopen, not less.

Think of it this way: If you never leave your home and have groceries delivered, why would it matter if you wore a mask? You wouldn’t even need to distance yourself from other people because no other people would be at our home.

Re-engaging with your community carries more risk. It’s a risk that can be dealt with, but it makes all of these protective measures more important. Not less. The virus has not gone away. It’s here now. It’s making people sick. It’s sending people to the hospital.

You have the power, right now, to slow and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. If you refuse to wear a mask, you’re endangering your health and the health of your community. If it’s so important for you to shop and get a haircut and visit the grocery store, then you can make the minimal sacrifice required of covering your mouth and nose.

We understand that some people don’t want government regulations or shutdowns. Fine. Wear your mask and tell all of your friends and family to do so as well. Then we won’t need government intervention.