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News-Miner Opinion

Put on the face mask: With COVID-19 rising in Alaska, we all need to step up

News-Miner opinion: One hundred cases of COVID-19 among residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough in seven days recently.

That 100-case mark, reached last week, accounted for 34.7% of the 289 cases recorded of borough residents since the first cases were confirmed in early March. Of those 289 cases, 187 were listed as active as of Thursday.

One look at the state’s case count chart for the Fairbanks borough shows clearly the sharp rise in cases in the past two weeks.

Pair that fact with the calendar showing that school is supposed to start here in four weeks.

Still don’t want to wear a face mask?

Get with it.

Our three local mayors know the risk of not wearing a mask and are concerned for the community’s wellbeing. That’s why the mayors — borough Mayor Bryce Ward, Fairbanks city Mayor Jim Matherly and North Pole Mayor Michael Welch — recently signed a joint proclamation urging residents to wear a mask.

“The economy and the wellbeing of our community rest in the hands of individuals who choose to practice good hygiene and are courteous to each other,” the proclamation reads, adding that “we all have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to keep our community strong and healthy.”

“Wearing a cloth face covering or mask in public as an action that will better our community during the pandemic and we strongly encourage all residents to wear a cloth face covering or mask and continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of disease in the community,” the proclamation concludes.

Beyond our community, momentum is rising in favor of mask-wearing. Many national retailers, several of them with stores in Fairbanks, require or soon will require customers to wear masks. Among them are Kroger, which owns the Fred Meyer chain; Walmart; Costco; Albertsons, which owns Safeway; Kohl’s, and Target.

Young people in particular might think they are strong enough to avoid becoming infected and therefore don’t need to wear a mask. Maybe peer pressure causes some to not wear one. Well, here’s a fact posted Thursday by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services: “In Alaska, the COVID-19 case counts are highest among adults in their 20s, followed by adults in their 30s, then 40s, and then 50s.”

The department recognizes that it is young people who will do the best job of reaching others in their age group to try to lower the number of infected young people. That’s why the department wants their help. “We need your help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You are the best messengers for other youth because you know how to get messages out that are creative, interesting and can reach your friends and networks.”

The department wants young people to create and share photos, memes and videos on their own social media channels and use the hashtag #AKyouthCombatCOVID. The state wants to amplify and cross-post some of them to spread the word.

Young people are a key part of this battle.

This pandemic will end faster if we all — young and not so young — help bring about that end. Not wearing a mask, not practicing good social distancing, believing that the virus will never find you — that’s just foolish behavior.

You make a great statement when you wear a mask. That statement says, “I care about you and I care about my community.”

Mask up, Alaska.

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.

Guidelines

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

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Send Community Perspective submissions by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Submissions must be 500 to 750 words. Columns are welcome on a wide range of issues and should be well-written and well-researched with attribution of sources. Include a full name, email address, daytime telephone number and headshot photograph suitable for publication (email jpg or tiff files at 150 dpi.) You may also schedule a photo to be taken at the News-Miner office. The News-Miner reserves the right to edit submissions or to reject those of poor quality or taste without consulting the writer.

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