An inconvenient lifesaver

You have no doubt seen the headlines about the increased spread of COVID-19 in Southern states, as well as in the nearby Pittsburgh area. Fortunately, Lawrence County has fared well during this recent spike, and we remain in the Green phase, meaning all businesses are allowed to be open, although some are operating at reduced capacities. I am sharing the graphic below to remind everyone of the guidelines for the Green phase.

I am also echoing the Vice President, the Governor of Texas, the Governor of Ohio, and our own Governor in a bipartisan request that all Lawrence County residents wear a mask when they are within six feet of others and when they enter buildings other than their own homes. In fact, just like in Texas, our state requires mask-wearing by employees and customers in any place of business.

Wearing a mask is an inconvenience. I often have to remind myself to put mine on when I make a trip to the grocery store or when I go to the floor of the House of Representatives to cast votes. Masks can be itchy, warm, and just plain uncomfortable. But new research has shown that wearing a mask significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19. It's true that a single virus particle is smaller than the holes in a mask, but the virus is almost always contained within a larger water droplet. In addition, overwhelming evidence proves wearing a mask does not pose a threat to oxygenation levels -- health care professionals wear masks all day for their entire careers.

Believe me when I say: I am eager for the day COVID-19 is eliminated as a threat, and we can put the masks away, and we can resume life the way it was before! But if we can make these small sacrifices today, we can avoid the fate of Pittsburgh and the South, where bars and restaurants are being re-closed. We can stay in the Green until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed if we just stay smart!