The debate over to mask or not to mask has taken a turn toward the former.
President Donald Trump donned a mask this week and urged all others living in the United States to do as he did.
It’s patriotic, says Trump. The wearing of masks also is the plea of the nation’s surgeon general, who disses a mandate and favors Americans’ and visitors’ cooperation.
His plea might have prompted national outlets such as Safeway, Walmart and Wells Fargo to mandate masks throughout their companies, including in Ketchikan.
Mask wearing has picked up in the First City’s public places, and it has been encouraged by the Dunleavy administration statewide.
With the number of novel coronavirus cases on the rise in Alaska during the summer season when visitors traditionally come — either to work or for pleasure — it is up to Alaskans to employ prevention practices as much as possible.
The situation is becoming more urgent, given the numbers. Alaska reported 109 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The First City had three on Monday — the highest number in a single day in weeks.
This could be expected given the season, but, at the same time, it presents an increase serious enough to prompt the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association to seek mandates on bars and restaurants to reduce the spread.
The requested mandates include requiring employees to wear masks, customers to sign in and sanitize their hands, and posting reminders about social distancing.
In regard to the first request, it was adopted by many in not only the restaurant but the retail industries at the onset of the virus. It continues to be the practice.
The other requested mandates are harmless, and might, in fact, be helpful.
It’s true that at the onset of the virus, authoritative information differed and varying reports led to skepticism.
It’s also true that the debate over whether to mask or not became political and prompted people to throw their hands up in disgust and confusion, as well as personal autonomy. Both Trump and the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the seriousness of the virus early on. But the political divide in regard to masks is dissipating.
The goal is to not only prevent virus spread, which has been devastating to some, but also to protect the nation or individual states from another shutdown. The virus can wreck havoc on a human being, but it is no less destructive to the economy — at least aspects of it.
President Trump the businessman has come around on the wearing of masks. It has been recommended by Trump to follow the leader.