Youth thoughts on a mask mandate

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On July 9, the Douglas County commissioners unanimously voted in favor of having Douglas County be opted out of the recent facial covering mandate that was ordered to be implemented by Tri-County Health. The commissioners also approved plans for Douglas County to withdraw from the Tri-County Health Department within the next year.

Both of the two things listed above concern me, as public health officials and experts and elected officials are raising alarm over the records of COVID-19 cases being reported nearly each day in the United States.

Currently, more than half of all states, which includes Colorado, are seeing increases in cases being reported, with some states like Florida, Texas and California seeing major surges in cases. On this, I am concerned that the country is moving back on our progress with returning back to normalcy, due to the surges and increase in cases and hospitalizations around the country. States are already having to pause reopening plans and even some going back to restrictions that nobody wants again.

I personally believe that Douglas County should keep the facial covering mandate ordered by Tri-County Health because even though our county isn’t seeing a huge rate of hospitalizations and cases, we should still be ensuring that we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves and others around us from getting infected.

While Tri-County claims Douglas County has roughly 75% of citizens in the community already wearing masks, it still isn’t enough because we all need to be wearing masks because those that may be infected but show no symptoms (asymptomatic) can easily spread it to others if they are not wearing a face mask.

Those who are most at risk for this virus such as those with underlying health conditions or older age should not be forgotten as to why we wear masks — to protect them from being infected and others around us. I am truly disappointed in our county commissioners’ choice to exempt Douglas County from the mask mandate, as I believe it could potentially lead the county to see an increase in people getting infected in the community and even hospitalized for that matter.

The science is clear — masks do help, and while it may not fully protect you from being infected, masks still show efficiency in reducing the airborne droplets of an infected individual (asymptomatic or not). As of July 10, Tri-County Health reports that Douglas County is at a 63.8% increase under the “Percent Change of 3-Day Rolling Average over Past-14-Day Period.” Also on the data from Tri-County Health Department as of July 10, both under the three-day average cases and seven-day average cases for Douglas County are numbers we haven’t seen since April (the first major hit of coronavirus).

As a youth activist who serves to represent the young people in our community on both the state and local levels and as a high-schooler in the community, I support a mask mandate for Douglas County to ensure health and our well-being comes first and foremost during this global crisis. While I understand, however, that will also likely be a thing for us young people to wear in our schools in the upcoming school year, I completely understand that we should continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this highly contagious virus.

Reed, of Parker, is a rising high school senior and member of Colorado State Senate District #4 Youth Advisory Council, Douglas County School District’s Fall Reopening Task Force and the United Nations Youth Association for the United States

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