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GRUBENHOFF: Save sports, wear a mask

Sam Grubenhoff
sgrubenhoff@nwfdailynews.com
Northwest Florida Daily News

Look, I get it. I’m the last person you want to hear this from.

You come to the sports pages to escape from the real news, and there are far more eloquent writers to tackle these heady subjects than some shmoe like me, but I had to say it, too: Wear a mask. Wear a bandanna or a neck gaiter. Cut up an old T-shirt and wrap it around your nose and mouth.

Please. To quote both Nike and the living internet meme known as Shia LaBeouf, “Just do it”.

In the past few weeks, I’ve run errands out in Destin and trips to the grocery story down the street from my apartment. Apart from the workers, whose employers have required them to cover their faces to prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks have been few and far between despite the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation “everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.”

Where did that get us?

Per Reuters, “Florida on Saturday morning reported 9,585 new infections in the last 24 hours, a record for a second day,” and “the United States recorded more than 45,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the largest single-day increase of the pandemic.”

Even Okaloosa County cracked 500 diagnosed cases on Wednesday, which more than doubles the 232 cases that had been reported as of June 1, and the number of coronavirus cases has been growing by between 7% and 12% in Okaloosa County every day since June 9, as the Daily News reported earlier this week.

Now, I understand those numbers are going up because we are testing more. That’s good; part of fighting a disease is knowing where it is. I also know the mortality rate is little more than 5%, according to the CDC; in a perverse sense, that’s also not bad.

But these numbers — the confirmed infections, the deaths — they don’t even have to be that high.

According to Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Raed Dweik, the Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, “There is evidence that (homemade) masks reduce the exhaled aerosols from infectious, but asymptomatic, individuals.”

The evidence Dweik cites comes from a study posted to the American Chemical Society Publications website, which measured the “filtration efficiency” of various “common fabrics” and concluded “that the use of cloth masks can potentially provide significant protection against the transmission of particles in the aerosol size range.”

It’s an imperfect solution, but wearing a mask, covering your face is the best solution we have right now, especially for those of us who desperately need to get out of the house.

Would you ask a football player or a hockey player to play without his helmet? Of course not. That would be foolish. That equipment saves lives and prevents unnecessary bodily harm. A cloth mask is no different.

This coming Saturday is Independence Day. Our Founding Fathers weren’t perfect, but they put forth in the Declaration of Independence a most perfect idea: All of us are each endowed with certain unalienable rights: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Should anyone feel that a cloth mask infringes on their liberty, I would argue not wearing a mask — choosing not to protect your fellow human beings — infringes upon another’s right to live and to pursue happiness.

And if not for me, if not for your neighbors, friends and family members, wear a mask for sports. We can’t all get back to the ball fields safely until we get this thing whipped.