In the past week, the number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Park County jumped from two to seven, which represents a 250% increase. Seven is still a low number, and hopefully we continue to …
In the past week, the number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Park County jumped from two to seven, which represents a 250% increase. Seven is still a low number, and hopefully we continue to see so few cases in the county, but this spike is troubling.
Throughout June, the five-day moving average of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Wyoming climbed steadily. In a state with a rural healthcare system of limited capacity, we might want to remember the pandemic is not over.
Earlier this month, the UW Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center surveyed 500 Wyomingites on measures they were continuing to take to protect themselves from COVID-19. The survey found that a small majority of people are still taking precautions that are recommended to keep coronavirus from spreading, such as washing hands and avoiding physical contact with others. The survey also found the percentage of people maintaining these practices was declining somewhat. It also found that 25% of Wyoming residents always wear masks when indoors at public places, while 28% never do.
To avoid economic ruin, we needed to open businesses and get moving again, but as the state is permitting gatherings indoors of up to 250 people, maybe it’s time to consider the value of wearing masks in indoor public spaces.
This is not to say masks should be mandated. A great way to get Wyomingites to resent something is to make a law requiring it. Instead, we gently suggest you take a look at a couple recent studies on the topic and consider the benefits of such precautions.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, a math and engineering journal, researchers used computer modeling to evaluate several scenarios of how wearing face masks could affect epidemic trends. They found that when people routinely wore face masks in public places, the reproductive number, which is a measure of the number of people an infected individual passes the virus onto, falls below 1.0. Below an R number of 1.0, the pandemic slows.
Interestingly, the study also found that homemade masks are very effective. Earlier studies concluded they are nearly as effective as standard surgical masks at blocking respiratory droplets.
A second recent study on wearing masks, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found strong correlations between mask mandates and pronounced reductions in viral transmission in Italy and New York City.
The latest research shows that mask mandates would likely save lives, but we aren’t New Yorkers. We don’t need to be told what to do. We’d do far better letting people decide for themselves if a mask is necessary. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rising. Be aware of that. Here are a couple of studies to consider. Arm yourself with this knowledge and consider the benefits of wearing masks in public, especially if you’re in a crowded situation.