Mask-wearing showed up a little late in the strategy to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus but has since caught on. Presently, masks have become more the norm than the exception, and many states, cities and towns across the country have been advised or ordered to wear them in public. Even some of the more stubborn states, whose governors initially refused to abide by social distancing and mask-wearing suggestions, are now starting to mandate masks and other mitigating measures as virus infection rates spike.

The doctors tell us that masks don’t necessarily prevent us from getting the virus, but they are very effective in limiting our ability to spread the virus and infect others. This is an incredibly significant point in a virus that is so dangerous in part because those who carry it may never feel sick or present symptomatically while they are spreading it to others. Masks help stop this. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website has a lot of information about masks that should be reviewed both by people who wear them in public and by those who refuse to wear them or who will not order them to be worn.

Here is some of what the CDC has to say on masks generally. “Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of cloth face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”

This is pretty simple stuff, really. Our public health officials are united in their advice to wear masks in public. Other than staying home completely and social distancing. they advise that mask-wearing is the single most important thing we can do to mitigate the spread of the virus. This helps everybody.

The recent July 4 celebrations in our country were different this year. Although the spirit of Independence Day remained unchecked and unchanged, its execution was different. Many local communities canceled their annual firework displays for fear of gathering people inappropriately. Families canceled their family cookouts and picnics. But none of these things stopped us from flying our flags proudly or wearing patriotic colors to honor the day and America’s commitment to democracy and freedom.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines patriotism as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” There are many ways for us and our fellow citizens to serve, love and be devoted to our country and what it represents. Americans of all stripes have demonstrated their patriotism in untold and uncounted ways over the centuries. Now we are being asked to do another such thing – wear a mask when appropriate.

I am surprised to be touting the wearing of a face covering as an act of patriotism, but here we are. In my opinion, anything we can do to protect the health and safety of our fellow citizens is patriotic. Scientists say that doing this helps mitigate the spread of the disease, which, in turn, will help us open the economic, commercial, educational, religious and other institutional aspects of our country in a safe and controlled way.

The sooner the better!



- Dean M. Peters,