Local Experts Agree: Wear a Mask for the Foreseeable Future
The Town of Davidson has asked residents and visitors to wear face masks and observe social distancing when out and about in the community, and especially when inside businesses and public spaces. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while some folks are observing these safety measures, many others are not.
News of Davidson went to Dave Wessner, a professor of biology at Davidson College whose research includes viral pathogenesis, for his thoughts.
“Our region is most certainly not out of the woods with respect to Covid-19,” said Wessner. “Community spread is still occurring and will keep occurring for quite some time.
“The number of new cases in the South is holding steady or increasing. And it’s not just a result of increased testing capacity ‘finding’ more asymptomatic people. The number of hospitalizations is holding steady or increasing,” he said.
The Charlotte Observer reported on June 11 that Mecklenburg County’s coronavirus case count rose by 117 the previous day, “according to state data, returning to a string of 100-plus daily cases over the past two weeks after a one-day dip to just 62 new cases on Tuesday.”
NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen relayed the state’s continuing increase in cases in a Monday news conference, saying, “I am concerned.” Governor Roy Cooper has strongly encouraged masks, while Virginia Governor Ralph Northam — whose state is seeing a decrease in cases — has made wearing masks mandatory for indoor public spaces.
DHHS data indicate that cases in the Southeast — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida — continue to increase. News of Davidson’s primary readership is in zip codes 28036, 28031, and 28078 — all of which continue to show increasing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from Covid-19.
“And masks work,” Wessner said. “If you are infected, they reduce the likelihood of you transmitting the virus to someone else. If you’re not infected, wearing a mask probably reduces your risk of becoming infected.”
Dr. Stephen Mange, a longtime Davidson pediatrician, agrees with the Town’s recommendation to wear a mask whenever one is out in public, “especially when in an enclosed space, for example, any type of commercial establishment. As others have said, this pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint. Social distancing, handwashing, and masks are measures that all of us — over age two years — can employ to try to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
“We need to remain vigilant to protect those who are most vulnerable in our community.”
A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.