Until recently, Mitchell County seemed nearly insusceptible to COVID-19. Just a handful of cases for weeks on end. Most surrounding counties were spared, too. No longer. With a steady increase in cases of COVID-19 within our county and the region during the past few weeks, we must step up and do more to stop the spread of the virus. Now is the time.
You probably already know what to do: Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear a face mask when shopping or attending congested gatherings. Easy, right? For some people, yes. Washing your hands and social distancing can be quickly checked off this short list. However, for too many in Mitchell County, there’s a definite aversion to wearing a face mask. Just look around.
Back in March the nation’s federal guidance – specifically from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – did not support wearing a mask. We know more now – a lot more thanks to science that tells us that wearing masks can reduce the transmission of the virus by as much as 50 percent, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. We know Covid-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and don’t know they are infected. We know face masks will absolutely help stop the spread of COVID-19.
As healthcare professionals, we also know why some people don’t want to wear a mask. We’ve heard the feedback. Occasionally there’s a valid medical condition that excludes someone. Sometimes the reason is political. Others say, “you can’t make me.” Then there are those who have a devil-may-care attitude. Our stance is uncomplicated, backed by science and aligns with the CDC, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association. We applaud the big-box stores Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, CVS, Menards, Dollar General and thousands of small businesses that have jumped on board to require masks.
Now is the time to put politics aside and do away with false pride. Now is the time to do more and work harder to keep COVID-19 at bay. You already know how to help keep Mitchell County safe: Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and, wear a mask. #StepUpMaskUpIA
Sincerely, Laura Huisman, Administrator; Shelly Russell, Chief Executive Officer of Mitchell County Public Health Mitchell County Regional Health Center; Jessa Ketelsen, Mitchell County Public Health Nurse.