By Natalie Boomer, Pierre Little
Editor’s Note: Wearing a mask helps protect the common good and health of everyone in the community at times of pandemic and is an act of kindness and it is not a political act.
Gov. Janet Mills has extended the stay-at-home order to May 31st. A lot of Mainers are upset with the Governor and hope that the economy can be reopened sooner, rather than later, and masks would certainly help in doing just that. Mainers must wear a mask or a cloth face covering while out in public, per her executive order starting May 1, 2020.
These public places include grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, outdoor spaces like playgrounds, parking lots, while in line for take-out services, and anywhere else where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
Although some of our initial CDC guidance said masks are not intended to protect the person who wears them. Truth be known, they act to prevent hoarding by the general public in an attempt to protect the supply of PPE for front-line workers. This is understandable but not justified; lying does not justify a well-intended end or goal. This is ethics 101. Truthfully then, do face masks protect you? They certainly do. It needs to be noted that health care workers wear them for prophylactic reasons, and it is also good for the general population to emulate them, especially in larger population centers and high traffic locations at times of pandemics to slow down the spread.
The CDC reports that wearing a mask or cloth covering can help stop the spread of the virus from the wearer to others, as one infected may not show any symptoms.
Masks are not required for children who are under the age of two, children in a child care setting, those who have trouble breathing or a related medical condition, and those who cannot remove a mask without the help of others.
Wearing a mask is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and everyday preventive actions, according to the CDC’s website.
Grocery stores, like all essential businesses directed by the State, require all employees and customers to wear cloth face coverings. But Bob Craft, owner of Calais IGA says “We realize that not everyone can wear one because of underlying health issues. We will not refuse or question anyone If they have a mask on or not.”
A Calais Walmart manager also reported that its employees are wearing masks or face coverings while at work. As for shoppers of the department store, the manager said, “It is a state policy. We cannot make you wear one. People could have underlying health issues and such.”
Mills is encouraging Maine citizens to make their own masks from common household materials or purchase them from Maine-based businesses. She has also mentioned that this mask order is not a substitute for physical distancing, and social distancing should still be followed.