Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department
Until we have a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, wearing face coverings, along with physical distancing, are the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a face covering on a regular basis is a new experience for most of us. It can feel awkward and maybe a bit uncomfortable, both physically and socially. But they are part of our future if we want to reopen our communities safely and responsibly.
The statewide face covering orders are intended to:
- Decrease the growing number of COVID-19 cases in counties across our state, including Whatcom County.
- Provide an additional layer of protection for employees so that their workplaces are as safe as possible.
- Keep us moving towards reopening businesses so that customers can shop locally in a way that provides confidence about their health and safety.
Show you care, develop the habit
Keeping physical distance from non-household members is the most effective action you can take to protect yourself. Wearing a face covering is an action you can take to protect others, including workers who must work in spaces where risk of transmission of COVID-19 is high. Together, these actions help protect our entire community. Earlier in June, Washington State Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman said, “The science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze.”
Developing a new habit is hard, but we can do it. We’ve done it before. According to the CDC, in 1981, only 11% of us wore seat belts. Multiple studies showed that seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of death or serious injury from a car crash. Laws were enacted, people started buckling up when driving, and making sure their passengers did too. In 2019, over 90% of Americans wore seat belts, saving thousands of lives and cutting the risk of a deadly injury from a crash nearly in half. We can make an even greater impact on COVID-19 infections by wearing face coverings in public spaces regularly.
Most of us buckle up without even thinking about it. It’s a habit that’s become routine as soon as we get in a car. Need a few reminders to help get your face covering routine established? Wear a face covering:
- In businesses and other indoor public spaces.
- In outdoor businesses and other outdoor public spaces if you can’t keep six feet from others.
- At your workplace unless you are working alone or have no in-person interaction.
- If you are over age 5 (over age 3 is recommended but not required).
- If you don’t have an exemption like a health condition or disability that prevents you from wearing one.
- That is clean and fits well. Learn how to care for your face covering.
- That is uniquely you! Learn how to make your own face covering.
- To show you care about those you live and work with.
Adopting and maintaining any new habit takes motivation. Think about what might motivate you to keep up your mask wearing habit:
- A friend, family member, or co-worker who is especially vulnerable because of their age or medical condition.
- A favorite local business that is working hard to help us move to the next phase of reopening.
- An opportunity to show off your creativity and style by wearing face coverings you’ve made.