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Effort to distribute masks this weekend commendable

Although hope is on the horizon with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine starting, it’s still critical to engage in pandemic safety practices, such as frequently washing hands, social distancing, and of course, wearing a mask.

And while many have debated about the effectiveness of mask-wearing throughout the pandemic, officials are emphasizing that the data is clear: wearing a mask properly does help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For example, one study cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that use of masks onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was associated with a 70% reduced risk of COVID-19; another showed that, in a contact tracing investigation, those who reported wearing masks had a 70% lower risk of infection than those who did not.

Furthermore, research published by Beaumont Hospital in southeast Michigan also showed that mask-wearing was associated with lower levels of infection by COVID-19 and, among those infected, lower levels of symptoms, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Due to this, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has launched a ‘Mask Up, Mask Right’ campaign to get the word out.

“The science is now settled: Masks protect others from COVID — and they protect the wearer,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon in a statement. “It’s important to wear the right mask and wear it the right way. We want all Michiganders to ‘Mask Up, Mask Right’ as we continue to battle the virus in our state.”

But was does masking right mean? Plenty of us, in well-intentioned moments, can have misunderstandings or slip-ups about proper mask-wearing practices.

According to the MDHHS, the correct way to mask up involves wearing one of three options of masks that provide stronger protection: three-layered washable cloth face coverings, medical-grade disposable masks or approved KN95 masks. It also includes wearing the approved mask correctly and having it secured over the nose and face, tightly fitting without gaps.

Officials also stressed that bandanas, gaiters and face shields without masks do not provide adequate protection for the wearer or others and are not recommended, so it’s time to swap those items out for a recommended form of mask.

And luckily, the United Way of Marquette County is partnering with Edward Jones in Ishpeming to distribute free cloth face masks to the community this weekend. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, anyone can get reusable cloth facemasks at the Edward Jones office at 662 Palms Avenue in Ishpeming.

We commend organizers for this effort and encourage you to pick up a mask if you need one. And perhaps most importantly, we urge you to practice wearing your mask frequently and correctly when you encounter people from outside your household, as you just might save a life by doing so.

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