Wearing a mask helps keep everyone safe

To the Editor:

After having grown up in Marshall, and serving as a city commissioner and mayor for 12 years, I feel an obligation to speak out on the current pandemic we are facing. Often we are tempted to view issues confronting us in terms of our personal political philosophy. It’s all too easy and convenient to see the world through the political red and blue lenses of left and right, liberal and conservative, and to pigeonhole them accordingly. It requires no critical thinking on our part, allowing nuanced issues to quickly become good or bad, black or white with nothing in between. Everything is viewed in political terms and evaluated based upon perceived impact onour personal freedoms. As a result we tend to dismiss outright anything inconvenient as a threat to our Constitutional rights.

There are issues that don’t easily fit a political narrative. The Coronavirus pandemic is one such issue. Covid-19 respects no national boundaries or political views. It operates outside of political norms and ideologies. Unfortunately, we are projectingthe current political polarization into this crisisand allowingour divergent political views to interfere with our ability to address a pathogen that has no respect for politics, or national boundaries. It strictly operates in the realm of biology, physics, and epidemiology. Science is the only way to effectively address what is an existential threat for far too many. Party affiliation is irrelevant, and this simply should not be viewed in political terms.

Covid-19 is spreading exponentially across Texas and the country. We’ve been warned that if the pandemic is allowed to run unabated until we reach herd immunity, the U.S. death count could well exceed million. Covid-19 is not analogous to influenza in terms of morbidity and deaths. In a couple of months, it has already outpaced the death count of influenza and is approaching the death rate for cancer. Left unchecked it will overrun our hospital capacity, causing the unnecessary deaths of many who would not die from this disease, or other maladies competing for available critical care capacity.

Almost every country that has successfully brought this crisis under control has done so without having to shut down their economies simply by requiring people to practice social distancing, wearing masks, and implementing an aggressive and robust program of testing, identification, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation. South Korea is an excellent example. They have avoided shutting their economy down by wearing masks, distancing, testing, tracing and isolation. We can to the same here, if we all cooperate.

Don’t view a mask as an infringement upon our personal freedom. View it instead as a temporary means to help friends and family avoid a potentially life threatening pathogen, until therapeutics and potentially a vaccine becomes available. It’s a matter of common decency for our fellow man. During World War II our forefathers stepped up and shouldered personal inconveniences and made sacrifices for the good of our country. We can and should do the same.

Contact your state and federal representatives, asking them to implement a nationally coordinated effort to test, identify, contact trace and isolate. Then,let’s do our part by wearing a mask in public.


Ed Smith