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OpinionEditorial

Be smart, wear a mask

Masks help stop the spread of airborne droplets.

Masks help stop the spread of airborne droplets. N95 masks are better but you can also purchase many alternatives including disposable ones. Credit: Bloomberg/Victor J. Blue

If you’re trying to decide whether to wear a mask this weekend, remember: There are still coronavirus cases on Long Island, and more could be en route with every visitor from a more-infected state.

Health officials across New York are anxiously anticipating arrivals and tracing known cases. New York City officials are pressing the brakes on indoor dining. Doctors and health experts are advising a simple decision to help stop the spread: put on a mask.

Many scientific studies suggest the benefits of masks as an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus, which has led to more than half a million deaths worldwide. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis from the scientific journal The Lancet found that “face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.” Data from an April study by Arizona State University researchers suggested widespread adoption of masks as a lifesaving effort, including in New York. Densely packed cities like Hong Kong have weathered the storm far better than others, and near-universal mask-use appears to have played a role. Even mass transit systems in Paris and Tokyo have reportedly beaten expectations. They are systems where people are wearing masks.

Consensus on masks was slow in arriving but many leaders and groups are now on the same page.

Among those now urging people to wear masks are Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Goldman Sachs, former Vice President Joe Biden, Fox News host Sean Hannity, restroom attendants at Jones Beach, the company you work for, the pizzeria you’re visiting for takeout, and your grandmother who is a little frail but has lots of good years left on this earth.

One missing mask link is President Donald Trump, who should encourage use of facial coverings on the national level. Cuomo’s executive orders requiring masks and allowing businesses to deny services to those who don’t are a good model. Either way, people have to get on board.

Masks help stop the spread of airborne droplets. N95 masks are better but you can also purchase many alternatives including disposable ones. Or make cloth masks yourself. Or wear a handkerchief around your face. Something is better than nothing.

You still need to social distance and wash your hands, but wear the mask, too, when meeting people in the outside world: the coverings reduce the distance that droplets can spread and can save the life of the person you’re talking to or someone else that person interacts with going forward.

People are exhausted of the rules and restrictions. Of course they are. Barbecues will likely happen this weekend and it will feel almost like things are normal, even as the coronavirus rages in other states. If you’re going out, the least you can do is keep some distance and wear a mask while talking and socializing.

Just do it. Don’t be the person responsible for more coronavirus spread.

— The editorial board

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