Requiring a face mask becomes more common

By Ardith Van Riper

     Two top health agencies, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the use of face masks while in public.  More nonessential businesses are reopening, and several set a face mask policy for customers.

     President Marlon White Eagle issued an Administrative Order which states in part, “Effective at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020 any individual who is employed by the Ho-Chunk Nation and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a Ho-Chunk Nation office or building and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”

     Numerous retail stores, grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, public transportation, airplanes, and ride-hailing services make it their policy to make it mandatory for both employees and patrons to wear a face mask.  The casinos operated by the Ho-Chunk Nation require face masks for both employees and patrons. 

     These are places that make social distancing difficult and where there are crowds of people.  Crowded areas make it difficult to maintain a distance of six feet.  Per the CDC, studies on infection control report that droplets from a cough, sneeze, or talking usually travel six feet.

     Face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.  The CDC updated its guidance to recommend the use of simple cloth face coverings.

     Wearing a mask protects others from you if you don’t know that you’re sick.  A significant portion of people with Coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning a condition or a person producing or showing no symptoms. 

     Wearing a mask also protects those that wear them.  Testing out the science of masks takes time, but there is evidence that masks do help.

     The WHO revised its guidelines on June 7 about when people should wear cloth masks.  WHO states, “For areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implement control measures and especially in setting where physical distancing of at least 1 meter is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.”

     How much protection the mask provides depends on the type of mask and whether the individual is wearing it properly.  The World Health Organization provides details on its website regarding the composition of a fabric mask and how to wear one safely.

     Countless cities across the United States began to require city residents and visitors to wear a face mask in public spaces as cases of COVID-19 surge.