Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Coronavirus Update 4-29-2020: Governor’s DeWine’s explanation for why masks are only “recommended” falls woefully short

I tuned in yesterday to Governor DeWine’s 2 pm briefing to learn why Ohio had changed its stance on face masks and coverings from “mandatory” to “recommended best practice.” His explanation falls way short.

The Governor offered two explanations, both based on feedback he received from constituents in the hours after his original pronouncement.
  1. Masks are offensive to some, who don’t like the government telling them what to do.
  2. Masks can be problematic for people with disabilities.

The answer to point number 2 is as easy as three letters: A-D-A. The ADA allows employers to modify work rules as a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability. If a mask or face covering causes an issue for someone with a disability, the solution is to offer that individual an accommodation. Maybe you segregate the employee so he or she does not come into contact with anyone else. Maybe you permit that employee to work from home. Maybe you grant a leave of absence until the risk abates. The point is that the employer and the employee have options other than the state modifying a rule that puts everyone at a greater risk of infection.

Which brings me to point number 1. Yesterday, the Governor said, “I understand some people may find that offensive, the government telling you what to.” Yet, if I’m choosing between offending some people and safety, I’m choosing safety 10 times out of 10. As I pointed out yesterday, everyone wearing masks or facial coverings reduces the risk of transmissions and infection down to a virtual zero.

Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease.

One of the things we absolutely must do to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to wear masks or other facial coverings when at work or in public. While there are studies that question the ability of masks to protect people from the virus, we are not wearing masks to protect ourselves from catching COVID-19. We are wearing them to protect others from us spreading COVID-19 to them. Thus, if everyone covers their face in public, we will protect everyone by limiting the spread of this virus. It’s just that simple, not difficult to comprehend, and not an affront to personal liberty.

So here’s my bottom line. Anyone who refuses to wear a mask in public because it’s “offensive” is selfish, thoughtless, and doesn’t give a damn about the well-being of their fellow humans, period. I’ll be continuing to wear my mask when around others in public. I sincerely hope that for the well-being of all others, you will too.

* Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash