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Wear Your Mask! 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, play and live. What hasn’t changed is our concern for family, friends and neighbors. We have lived through the stress of sheltering in place for a few months, and as a result are participating in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. Politics aside, Illinois has fewer COVID-19 cases and ICU hospitalizations than most other states. In spite of all of its ongoing problems, state leadership did the right thing by protecting its citizens at all costs. Clearly there are many people angry with our Governor, particularly business owners who feel these restrictions cost the state millions of dollars in lost income and jeopardized their futures. Many have indeed lost jobs and not all companies will survive. The losses from this virus are yet to be calculated and this nation will be paying down the debt for a generation. Elderwerks and most not-for-profit organizations have also suffered tremendous financial losses, cancelling fundraisers and feeling the “belt tightening” of long-time donors taking a “wait and see” stance. We are hoping to recover by year-end, but that too remains to be seen.

But how do we weigh the cost of something as precious as life? How many lives were saved as a result of this financial recession? It’s difficult to say for sure and the point of this column is not to defend Governor Pritzker or elected officials, but to deal with reality. There is no such thing as a “way back machine.” What we can do is bring back a sense of the common good, looking out for one another. One very simple way to do this is wearing a mask. Is it an inconvenience, uncomfortable, weird, etc.? Yes it is, however, this simple gesture reduces virus spread and shows you care. In essence you are making a positive statement, showing you want to do your part to slow down COVID-19 and help make our state’s performance even stronger.

I can already hear the naysayers, but let’s say, hypothetically, you decided that you weren’t going to wear a mask. You go out in public without one and feel fine. No symptoms. You’re not sick. You go home to your wife and kids. Perhaps you visit your parents and then drop by to check on your on grandparents. You still feel great. Maybe 5-days later your children, mom and grandparents start getting fevers. They get extremely sick and you are worried about what’s happening to them. The kids bounce back, but your mom has permanent lung damage and your grandparents died. What would you think then? Observing a few considerate procedures can reduce the odds of avoiding this horrific scenario. Wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the disease, wash your hands and observe the six-foot distancing guidelines. It’s simple stuff, and the time wasted arguing about it can be invested in actions that yield positive results that benefit everyone.

We’re all in this together folks. Let’s unite and put this virus behind us.

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