By Mayor Brian M. Arrigo
This week brought the first faint glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel that still stretches far out ahead of us. Governor Baker’s announcement that we will soon begin to see some loosening in the restrictions that have curbed our lives for the last two months was as welcome as May flowers and sunshine.
But for the foreseeable future, only our eyes will reveal our happiness as we slowly return to stores and restaurants and small public gatherings. Bright smiles will remain hidden behind masks.
We can expect that many of the restrictions to which we have grown accustomed will be the norm as previously-closed businesses ease back into operation. The six-foot separation from others, a cap on the number of people in stores and shops, check-out counters separated from customers by plexiglass–all those measures that helped Massachusetts finally “flatten the curve” likely will be standard practice until medical science devises an answer to the contagious, deadly Covid-19 virus.
And masks will be a protective fashion statement.
The statistical proof of Covid-19’s devastating invasion is persuasive evidence that any measure of protection is a wise action. Massachusetts reported its first Covid-19 death on Friday, March 20. Barely 50 days later, has the death toll in our Commonwealth passed 5,200. Similarly, as recently as March 12, just over 100 people had tested positive for the virus across Massachusetts. By the time you read this, Massachusetts will surpass 80,000 confirmed cases. By any measure, that is terrifying information.
While a mask is no guarantee of safety, it is a valuable layer of protection. The federal Center for Disease Control has made it plainly clear that a mask or covering over the nose and mouth can help prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
It is worth repeating that Covid-19 spreads person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is a medical fact that a person can be infected with Covid-19 and yet experience no symptoms.
Equate the respiratory droplets of an infected person to a lethal weapon. A symptom-free infected person is like a sniper randomly firing a weapon into a crowd.
When you wear a mask, you help protect your family, the people you encounter when you go for a walk, and the essential workers who have kept food on our tables, gasoline in our autos, and provide medical care for all.
Covid-19’s dangerous potential is as true today as it was in March. Covid-19 will not take a break as the warm weather arrives. Do not regard the opening of businesses as a signal that the virus is any less a threat. It is as contagious and virulent as ever.
In fact, as restrictions are loosened and businesses reopen to the public, it is even more imperative that we strictly observe protective practices. Keep in mind, the number of infections and deaths in Massachusetts since March accumulated with drastic controls imposed on society. Many businesses were closed and everyone was advised to stay home specifically to slow the virus spread. The carnage that might have occurred without those drastic measures is unthinkable.
We now have a good grasp of how to control the spread: keep your distance from others, wash your hands, clean and disinfect surfaces, stay home when possible. And wear a mask in public.
Those measures will be tested more than ever as society and business gets rolling again. If we disregard the precautions that we know will work, we will certainly imperil ourselves and our families.
In Revere, we have made it a point to make sure our residents have a mask. Anyone can drive or walk up to the Rumney Marsh Academy between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and obtain a mask. Or you can sign up for a mask at www.revere.org/coronavirus and we will make sure a mask is delivered to you.
Yes, we have reason to smile as we carefully start to resume a life that includes regular work hours, shopping, dining in restaurants, church services, haircuts and more. But let’s keep those smiles hidden behind a mask for the foreseeable future. Our eyes can tell the story.
Brian Arrigo is the Mayor of the City of Revere.