Face masks block droplets that are emitted when you talk, sneeze and cough. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these droplets are the main way that COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person. So face masks are very important to protect other people from any germs you may have. And they reduce the spread of the virus from people who have COVID-19 but don’t realize it because they have no symptoms.
Wearing a face mask does not protect you from the droplets of others. The best way for you to be protected is for all others around you to be wearing face masks themselves.
So this is what it’s all about: You wear a mask to protect me, and I wear a mask to protect you.
I had a conversation with a resident today who was concerned about the number of people not wearing masks downtown. She wondered why that was, because she believes that Los Altos is a community where people care about each other. And if people care about each other, then they’re going to wear face masks to show they care. Plus, now it’s mandatory. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order June 18 that makes it mandatory to wear face coverings when in public. Specifically, it’s mandatory to wear face coverings in public when it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
Businesses are opening up. They aren’t opening up because the possibility of getting the virus has decreased – nothing has changed from when we first started the shelter-in-place. But we know that if we keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others, that will slow the spread. And we know and have seen proof from the experiences in Europe that wearing face masks can make a huge difference in slowing the spread.
As more and more of us venture downtown to enjoy outdoor dining and shopping at our favorite retailers, we need to keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others. But with more and more people going out, it’s possible and probable that we can’t maintain a 6-foot physical distance from every person. Therefore, wear a face mask.
Show the waitperson at the restaurant you’re eating at that you care by wearing a face mask when he or she comes to take your order. Keep your mask on unless you are actually eating or drinking. Then keep your mask on when you are walking down the street or sidewalk.
In fact, just keep the face mask at the ready, around your neck, whenever you go out so that you can quickly put it on if you come within 6 feet of someone else. (This also applies to bicyclists, who whiz by me much less than 6 feet away when I’m walking in my neighborhood.)
When you leave your house, check that you have your keys, your wallet or purse, and your mask. It’s as simple as that. And maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with.
Show that you care – wear your face mask! Maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet. You wear a mask to protect me, and I wear a mask to protect you.
Jan Pepper is mayor of Los Altos.