OPINION | Mask mandates are necessary and should stay in place

At the entrance of many stores are signs that strongly recommend the use of masks in their facilities. The difference between a recommendation and mandate are significant. Sun News Daily | Trey Urban

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Since the start of COVID-19 governments across the globe have taken extra precautions by having their citizens mask-up.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the best ways to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated, wearing well-fitted masks, physical distancing of six feet or more and frequent hand-washing.

There have been many individuals who have opposed these suggestions. The sooner we come together to fight the spread of COVID-19, the quicker it will be over. One of the quickest ways to accomplish this is by wearing face masks.

I’m not saying I love wearing masks, I hate it just as much as the next person. It makes it harder to breathe, your face sweats and it causes acne. It’s certainly not very stylish either, and it prevents us from seeing each other’s reactions. There’s a myriad of reasons why people don’t want to wear masks.

Like many things in life, we have to make sacrifices for the greater good. In this case, that happens to be for our physical health.

Recently the CDC updated its guidelines for mask mandates. Effective on Feb. 25, people are no longer required to wear masks on any buses or vans run by public or private schools. The recent change aligns with the new guidelines which no longer require masks in schools in low to medium risk areas.

As someone who has worked on the frontlines against COVID-19, I’ve seen masks work in full effect. During Christmas break and into New Year’s Day we were testing around 1,000 people every day. At the time, we were seeing more positive tests than we had at any other time.

When testing patients, we had to get close and personal as we swabbed each patient’s nostrils. I wore a mask the entire time I was on the testing site and continually tested myself every other day to check if I had COVID-19. Each test I took came back negative and proved to me masks work.

Most of the people coming in and testing positive were not wearing masks when they pulled through our lines. This showed me a clear sign of how these patients were handling the virus. Especially since most of them had come in to get tested so that they could go on trips. It was frustrating to witness.

Think about wearing a mask like going to the dentist. Most of us hate going to the dentist and having them poke around in our mouths. Sometimes they even manage to hurt us. But once we walk out of there, we generally feel a lot better than we did going in. The same goes for masks. They may be annoying and ugly, but they keep us healthy.

Just like we have to buck up and deal with going to the dentist, we have to buck up and wear masks. Until we have stopped the curve of COVID-19, the continual high rates of transmission across the nation shows why masks should continue to be mandated, especially in indoor public places. They help protect us, our family, friends and loved ones.