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We’re all in this together, so please wear a mask

Like everything else these days, wearing face masks in public has become controversial and divisive.

Go to a local grocery store, and about half the people you see are wearing masks. Vice President Mike Pence made headlines during a recent visit to the Mayo Clinic when he ignored the hospital’s policy that everyone needed to wear masks. This week President Donald Trump went maskless when visiting an Arizona factory — that makes masks.

People are reposting a March 8 60 Minutes interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci who said most people didn’t need masks. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention continues to advise wearing masks in public.

The CDC makes this recommendation after recent studies suggest that asymptomatic individuals, or people who do not show COVID-19 symptoms, but have the disease, can transmit the virus to others. Also according to the CDC, this means people who feel fine can spread the coronavirus to others in close proximity by speaking, coughing and sneezing. Face coverings should be worn in public settings, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The CDC states that this is especially important in communities with significant transmission.

The reality of how COVID-19 is spread has sparked different responses from large box stores that are deemed essential and allowed to stay open. Some retail companies are requiring their employees to wear masks and have set up plexiglass partitions at the checkout stations. Recently, Menard’s went a step further by implementing a new policy:

“Due to COVID-19, we are requiring all guests to wear a mask or face covering while shopping in our stores. If you do not have a mask or face covering, we have masks available for purchase. Thank you for your cooperation and efforts to keep our guests and team members safe.”

Yes, individuals have rights to choose. But there is also something to be said about being responsible. More and more companies and business groups are recognizing this.

With no end in sight of completely eliminating the threat of COVID-19, providing safe work environments will be one of the key factors for Americans to get back to work, shop at their favorite retail stores, get hair cuts, go out to eat, etc.

Wearing a mask in crowded venues is a small price to pay to protect yourself, loved ones and neighbors. And it’s the responsible thing to do.

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