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Pinal County, the United States and much of the world have been seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Some of the reasons listed are more people being indoors and carelessness about exposure as weariness over the pandemic grows after eight-plus months. Some good news surfaced last week, however, about the use of face coverings.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement that masks protect the wearer as well as others. This had been said in some forms previously, but experts were reluctant to comment too much because the extent of protection is unknown and they did not want to provide a false sense of security. However, the value of masks overall has been proclaimed for a long time. Their use is widespread and mandatory in many places, but more diligence in mask wearing is needed.

Many people are too careless about handling and touching their masks. Also, the type of fabric varies widely, and some users are very particular about getting maximum protection. However, any mask use is better than none.

Having more students attending school in person probably is a factor in the increase, although some schools are closing again. Prisons have been hot spots, and some of the visitors that Pinal County enjoys during this time of year seem less willing to wear a mask.

President-elect Joe Biden is showing signs of wanting stricter enforcement. He won’t be in the White House for a couple of months, so that remains to be seen. New shutdowns would be very harmful to the economy and would not solve the problem, as we have seen in Europe and elsewhere. However, new rules could put on more pressure to wear masks.

A promise of relief from vaccines is on the horizon but will take some months to make an impact. In the meantime, we should do our best to live safely with the coronavirus, and wearing masks is a key component.

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