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With ADPH, we ask that you mask

Depending on who you ask, the state’s mask order imposed last week is either the saving grace we’ve all been waiting for or an unconscionable infringing on basic human rights.

Likely neither of these extremes is quite the truth – but for our part, we encourage you to follow the state mandate and mask up.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state is up to 1,232 COVID-related deaths since this pandemic reared its ugly head. Franklin County accounts for 16 of those – ranking us at No. 16 in the state for deaths, ahead of all neighboring and nearby counties except Walker with 48.

The ADPH tallies Marion County at 14, Lauderdale and Colbert at eight deaths each and Winston at seven. Morgan is at 10, while Cullman is also at seven. Limestone totals five; Lawrence has zero.

When it comes to COVID-19 deaths in northwest Alabama, Franklin County is “winning” – but that’s certainly not a victory to celebrate.

Would more widespread wearing of masks have prevented some of these deaths? It’s hard to say – but if mask-wearing might help prevent more COVID-19 deaths in the coming months, it’s worth a shot.

Experts say we’re at a crucial point in the pandemic, with states continuing to go back to “normal” even as case counts continue to rise.

To some extent, that rise is to be expected – after all, the precautions we’ve taken to this point have been about “flattening the curve,” not eradicating the virus altogether.

But this is not the time to let our guard down. Many adults have returned to work, and our schoolchildren and teachers will soon be returning to the classroom. The potential for the disease to spread is going to grow, and it’s up to us to continue what precautions we can to help prevent transmission as much as possible.

So yes, wear a mask.

Is it inconvenient? Maybe a little. But what would be far more inconvenient is having our hospitals and healthcare workers overwhelmed by an influx of cases. It would be far more inconvenient if a spike required us to shut schools back down a week after they resume. It would be far more inconvenient if we had to go back to a statewide stay-at-home order in the face of a virus spiraling out of control.

You want to know what would be really inconvenient? Contracting the coronavirus and finding yourself in the hospital on a ventilator.

You look both ways before you cross the street. You wear your seatbelt. You put on sunscreen. These are precautions you take to help keep you safe.

Just add “wearing a mask” to your list. It’s a precaution that could help protect you as well as those around you.