We all agree on one thing. We are sick and tired of the coronavirus pandemic and pray for a swift end to it. Prayer alone will not stop the stealth-like coronavirus from attacking women, children and men in Iowa, our nation and our world. Continued self-sacrifice is essential to protect others and ourselves from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which is resurging. “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you” (CCC, No. 2834).
Now, more than ever, we need to maintain physical distancing, face-mask wearing and good sanitation practices to thwart a disease that takes advantage of our laxness and vulnerabilities. As an ICU nurse manager in a Texas hospital overwhelmed with very sick COVID-19 patients said, “A mask is not a big ask to help save your life” (CNN, July 2).
One of the patients interviewed in that news report, a 28-year-old warehouse worker, choked up as he talked about his wife and 7-year-old son, whom he cannot see, touch or hold as he struggles with COVID-19.
Texas is among the states seeing an alarming jump in COVID-19, the disease that the coronavirus causes. However, cases are rising in Iowa, too, where social distancing and face-mask wearing practices seem haphazard, at best. The total number of confirmed cases in the U.S. exceeds 2.6 million, with more than 130,000 deaths. The total number of confirmed cases in Iowa exceeds 31,000, with more than 720 deaths to date.
It should concern us that when school resumes next month the Iowa Department of Education is not recommending the wearing of face masks for students or teachers even if social distancing is not possible. It should alarm us that “Iowa is one of four states in the country where masks aren’t required by law anywhere” (kcrg.com, June 29, 2020).
How important are face masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
“Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of cloth face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”
Face masks are recommended for individuals over 2 years of age. Some people have health conditions that may prevent them from wearing face masks. If those people have to be out in public, a face shield instead of a face mask would be better than no protection.
One grandmother in our diocese has this message to share: “Please, if you don’t wear a mask don’t come around me! I have a grandson and granddaughter who mean the world to me and I could not live with myself if it were my fault they became ill. If not for you, for others! Wear your mask.”
We are tired, weary of the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to pray as if everything depended on God (see prayer resources at www.usccb.org) and work as if everything depended on us. We will wear our face masks in public, practice physical distancing and urge our elected leaders, especially Gov. Reynolds, to require our schools, businesses, civic and faith entities to do the same (governor.iowa.gov). The coronavirus is no match for people who care for one another, and demonstrate it.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor
Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!