To the editor: My fellow Alaskans. I’ve known you all of my life, and we are a caring and friendly people. We stop for the car off the road; we volunteer at the Food Bank; we care for friends at church; we welcome the strangers who visit our great state. So I wonder why we are not caring more for each other in these times of COVID-19 by wearing masks?
This virus is not a Republican or a Democrat, not Christian or atheist. It doesn’t care if you are black, brown, white, yellow or purple. All it wants is a warm body, and when it finds one, it wants to get in through the nose, mouth or eyes. And when it gets in, it can kill. It has killed people of all ages, including children. And even if someone recovers, the effects can be lingering and debilitating. Unfortunately, some people can be positive and not sick and still spread the disease. Unless people have just been tested, we don’t know who does and doesn’t carry this virus.
What we do know is that wearing masks can help prevent the spread of this disease. If you are wearing a mask, that protects me in case you are asymptomatic. If I wear a mask, that protects you in case I’m asymptomatic. A sneeze of someone positive without a mask can shoot droplets up to 10 feet or more, well beyond the 6 feet of physical distance that is recommended. Also, countries with everyone wearing a mask are doing so much better. Taiwan, with about 24 million people and where almost everyone wears a mask in public, has had only seven deaths, five fewer than Alaska. Thailand, with 95% of people wearing masks, has had only 58 deaths, 450 times less per capita than the U.S. deaths.
So, please help us all feel more comfortable to go shopping or be in public. Help everyone feel safer back out in the world. Go ahead and be out, but keep 6 feet apart and show that Alaskans care for others. Please, please wear a mask in public.