The fight against the coronavirus is entering a new and deadly phase. Illinois has another 1200 cases and 53 more deaths - since yesterday. Do you know anyone who has died, or gotten very ill? I do.
Our office has received many questions about what we are "allowed" to do. Our Mayor and our Governor have made it pretty clear, and now I will add my view.
According to the Executive Order,
all residents are required to stay at home, unless they work for an essential business or are doing an essential activity, such as obtaining food, medicine, or other necessary supplies, but they should not engage in group activities or take any unnecessary trips.
Yes, we have been given "permission" to go outside sometimes. But this permission does not extend to long runs in the park, or playdates with friends, or even excursions with our immediate family. It means
stay home - and
only go out when you have to.
We know now that the virus spreads when we are asymptomatic and that the virus is so contagious, breathing near someone can spread the disease. In some cases, the disease appears to be no more than a cold. In fact, one of our neighbors told us that she had what she thought was a pretty mild cold - until her doctor doggedly made her get a test. She has COVID-19. She graciously told all her friends and co-workers to warn them. But that mild cold, could result in a massive reaction in another person. That is why we have the Stay at Home order - to protect others from us.
What can we do in the face of asymptomatic spread?
Stay Home - and
Don't go out at all unless you are wearing a mask.
This has not yet been ordered. But the evidence is piling up that masks protect others from us. Governor Pritzker recommended wearing face masks or scarves
at his press conference today
A mask may not be enough to protect you from
getting infected by others. But wearing a mask can
greatly reduce the chance of you infecting others. By wearing a mask, I help you and you help me.
In some countries, wearing masks in public is a routine occurrence. However, we do not know the effectiveness in a culture that values individual over group rights. In fact, requiring mask wearing might promote even more disobedience to social distancing requirements and encourage folks to visit the lakefront, mingle with friends and otherwise feel immune.
But this is incorrect thinking. When cases are rising, deaths are more common, and our health care system is becoming overloaded,
wearing a mask is an additional layer of defense
to existing social distancing requirements. Wearing a proper mask properly can help at those times when we have to go out - to get groceries. But it is not cover for going out more or congregating in the parks.
Other countries have much more strict social distancing rules and require masks. In the Czech Republic, according to the
US Embassy in the Czech Republic
As of March 26, people may be outside of their residences only by themselves or in groups of two. Exemptions are families and individuals performing work.
All individuals in the Czech Republic outside of their home MUST cover mouth and nose with either a protective medical mask, self-made mask, or a scarf. The Czech government has banned going anywhere in public without such cover and has imposed several fines for violating the ban in several cases."
The Czech Republic has good outcomes compared to the rest of Europe. I believe we should follow that example, and wear face masks.
Our individual desire to enjoy a nice spring day is not enough to overcome our societal obligation to protect our fellow citizens from even "accidental" exposure. Therefore, we should restrict our activities even more. And when we must go out, we should wear a mask.
If you are a runner - please try some cross training you can do inside or on your block.
If you are a parent - please give your kids some outside time as close to home as possible.
If you love the outdoors - step out, feel the sunshine and go back in.
Don't go out unless you have to, and then, only with a mask on.
Thank God we are not sheltering in place because we are under fire, as millions have been in civil wars. Most of us are comfortable, many still employed, and we have more time with our families than we have had in years. This will be over. But now it is our duty to stay home.
Check out this DIY article from the
on how to make your own mask at home. There are many others patterns on the internet, including no-sew masks. We will have more on this in another newsletter. But for now -
Stay Home, Save Lives. Don't go out without a mask.