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Health, economy depend on masks

Starting today, all Oregonians will be required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

Yes, masks can be uncomfortable to wear, but no, they aren’t a violation of your constitutional rights or damaging to your health, unless you have severely compromised breathing, which means you probably shouldn’t be out in public in the first place.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was left with no choice than to require masks after the Oregon Health Authority and the Institute for Disease Modeling released data that project how COVID-19 is spreading across the state.

The modeling, which is based on data through June 18, offers three projections, predicting that daily case levels could rise as much as 20 percentage points.

The “optimistic” scenario, which is the least likely according to the OHA, shows the state continuing to see about 180 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day for the next month.

The “moderate” model suggests we could see as many as 900 new daily cases and increase hospitalizations from eight to 27 each day.

The “pessimistic” scenario would be over 5,000 new cases per day, with hospitalizations increasing from eight to 84.

“What’s amazing is there are things we can do that aren’t much of a hardship and have a profound effect on the spread of the virus,” Jackson County Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames said Monday.

We concur. Residents of Oregon must wear masks, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and wash their hands for 20 seconds.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Gov. Gavin Newsom each made similar mask mandates over the past few weeks in their states. It only makes sense for Oregon to join the rest of the West Coast.

In Jackson County, we have 49 active cases and have seen 10 related hospitalizations since the pandemic began. That is low compared to other counties from around the state, but Shames said Monday that we have at least one “super spreader,” or someone who is highly infections.

If we don’t slow the spread of COVID-19, the governor’s office could force Jackson County to revert back to phase one or zero reopening. On top of the health risks, businesses that were just able to reopen would be shuttered again. It is worth wearing a mask to keep everyone healthy and employed.

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested wearing cloth masks while in public to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” according to the CDC’s website.

We wear N95 masks nearly every summer in the Rogue Valley during smoke season. Your health depends on a mask then, and it does now, too.

In a April article, The American Bar Association explained that the 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions grant states all authority to take public health emergency actions.

“With states adopting emergency measures, there are several broad public health tools that governors can invoke,” the ABA article reads. “They can, for example, order quarantines to separate and restrict the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. They can also direct that those who are sick with a quarantinable communicable disease be isolated from people who are not sick.”

While everyone claims to be an expert on the constitution and infectious diseases on social media, such complex scientific issues cannot be explained in a meme. Just wear a mask so we can all get through this without inflicting more damage to the local economy and the health of the residents of the valley.