Keywords: wearing of masks; universal mask wearing; global mask wearing; handwashing; physical distancing; avoidance of crowds, testing for COVID-19; contact tracing; COVID-19; re-opening of economy; COVID-19 re-opening measures.
The largest global single day for new cases of COVID-19 infection took place on June 21, 2020, when, according to the World Health Organization, this daily count was 183,020. The total global count for COVID-19 infections from December 2019 to June 24, 2020 is 9,212,146, with 473,797 persons worldwide dying because of this infection. Between June 21 and June 24, a total of over 410,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported worldwide. In the past three months, most countries have undertaken some kind of lockdown in order to curb the spread of the virus.
While the lockdown has necessarily caused economic hardships in most countries, we are comforted by the thought that hundreds of thousands of lives may have been saved because of the impact of these lockdowns on the populations of these countries. The understanding has been that as the virus is brought under control, these economies would once again reopen. Re-opening has therefore been predicated on rational thinking to ensure that the virus does not once again ravage our societies.
Is Re-Opening Economy Irrational Behavior?
What should happen at reopening of the economies? It is expected that leaders would think rationally and decide on the basis of their individual economies whether re-opening can be safely done with little resurgence of the virus.
What we hadn’t bargained for is that in some quarters, re-opening of the economy is seen as having higher priority than ensuring the curbing of the virus. The result is that some decisions are being made to re-open the economy, when the virus has not been brought under control. In fact, in some jurisdictions, the virus seems to be wreaking havoc on our people, while businesses are allowed to reopen without adequate measures being taken to control its spread.
Controlling Spread of Virus and Re-opening of Economy not Mutually Exclusive
Controlling the spread of COVID-19 and re-opening our economies should not be seen as mutually exclusive goals. Rather, controlling the spread of the virus should be seen as prerequisite for the re-opening of the economy. If people are still being infected and dying from the virus, who will be willing to patronize the businesses that have re-opened? In short, if people continue to die, re-opening the economy would not mean survival of businesses. Businesses too would die.
Infections and Hospitalizations are On the Rise
In some areas, not only has the number of infections risen over 100 per cent, but hospitalizations have also increased. Hospitals in some states are finding that they are fast running of capacity to provide care for the new cases of COVID-19. This is a serious proposition, for there will be people in need of care who would not be able to receive that care.
Some Successful Strategies with COVID-19
In the past three months, some of the measures that have been found successful in curbing COVID-19 are aggressive handwashing, physical distancing and avoidance of crowds, testing for the virus, contact tracing, quarantining and social isolation, and the wearing of masks. Clinical observations have shown that these measures have helped and are still helping, to reduce the spread of the virus.
More Testing at Re-Opening of Economy
Measures that are being stressed as economies are being re-opened are that more testing be carried out to identify where there are outbreaks, and that contact testing be vigilantly followed. While many countries are religiously striving to test as many of their people as possible to see where needs attention and also to estimate the success they have been having with reducing infection, other countries are refusing to test. Some countries are dedicated in their contact tracing and are rounding up every instance of positive cases that they can.
Not Testing Can Be Dangerous
The rationale of those countries and states that do not test much may be that they would not have high numbers of infections. This approach does nothing but allow the virus to spread. This is a dangerous way of thinking and a disservice to their people.
What are We to Do?
As responsible citizens, we have the ability to take matters into our own hands. Where our leaders are too timid to take the right measures to stop the spread of the virus, we can continue to practice aggressive handwashing, physical distancing, staying away from crowds, and isolating ourselves when we have a feeling that we may have the virus, or that we may have been exposed.
We can also do the responsible thing by getting tested and demanding from our governments and health departments that we receive these tests. Once we have taken the tests, we should also ensure that we get the results. It is not enough to think that if we did not hear from these authorities that we are O.K. We must find out what our status is. If we are positive, then we need to be responsible enough to isolate ourselves.
But Most Important Single Measure
But the most important single measure for controlling the spread of this virus is one that we can take as individuals. We can each decide to wear a mask. In many jurisdictions, our leaders are possibly afraid to make the decision of mandatory masking. Some explain that they cannot pass legislation because they would not be able to monitor whether the legislation is being followed. Regardless of the reason governments and health departments give for not making the wearing of masks mandatory, each one of us has it within our power to make this happen. We can wear a mask whenever we are out in public.
What We Need is Global Leadership
If global leaders were to think of COVID-19 as an external enemy and come together for our common protection, they would agree on taking concerted action that would reduce the spread of the virus. In light of the clinical evidence that COVID-19 is airborne, and the fact that each individual has the potential to infect others simply by talking, coughing or sneezing, it obligates us to strive to prevent infection.
Not Intended as a Fashion Statement or Sign of Weakness
Wearing a mask is not intended to be seen as a fashion statement or as detracting from personal attractiveness; neither should it be seen as a sign of weakness. After all, it takes a strong and courageous person to stand up and be counted as wanting to do what is right; to be a leader, when others may see that action in negative light.
Young People, Stand Up Universal Mask Wearing
Wear your mask whenever you are in public! Successful youth living encourages you to get your friends to do the same. Speak to your representatives, councilors, ministers, senators, and others who may have some authority to make decisions, or at least to influence them. By taking the lead as an influencer to let others follow you in wearing a mask whenever in public, you will be doing something immensely valuable not only for your community but also for your country. As pointed out by Galloway (June 24, 2020), in the United States, R. Anthony Fauci, who is an expert in public health and pandemics, encourages Americans to wear masks as part of their social responsibility. We can all take this advice, regardless of where we live.
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes (May 7, 2020). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html
The Czech Republic’s mandatory mask laws (March 27, 2020). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhNo_IOPOtU&feature=youtu.be
Galloway, K. (June 24, 2020). Coronavirus Crisis: Mask wearing purely a public health issue,’ not a political one, Dr. Fauci says. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abc7news.com/society/coronavirus-mask-wearing-purely-a-public-health-issue-not-a-political-one-dr-fauci-says/6264866/
World Health Organization (June 21, 2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Situation Reports. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-report
By Israelin Shockness at www.successfulyouthliving.com and at www.successfulyouthlivingblog.com