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To wear, or not to wear a mask, that is the question…and a burning one because without clear, unequivocal instructions we feel lost. Don’t you feel utterly confused when our commander in chief tells us to wear masks but refuses to follow his own lead?

As a surgeon, I spent half of my professional life wearing surgical masks. You get used to it pretty quickly. Surgical crews wear these masks to protect patients from all kind of bugs coming from our mouths with each uttered word, breath, cough, or sneeze. This situation is simple and straightforward. 

The current development, on the other hand, presents many more challenges and unknowns. Challenges that most of us, myself included, never experienced before. To whom should we listen? Medical professionals like Dr. Fauci or self-serving politicians? For me, the answer is obvious:medical  professionals. 

The medical professionals are finally in complete agreement. Everyone should wear a mask in public spaces and practice social distancing – there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! 

Here’s the thing, when you have a full blown disease, the course of action is clear. Isolate yourself at home and go to a hospital if your condition deteriorates. However, the majority of people infected with COVID-19 have very mild, indistinct symptoms. What should they do?

Take the future king of Great Britain for example. Prince Charles strictly obeys the doctors orders. “Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus, luckily with relatively mild symptoms, I now find myself on the other side of the illness but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation,” he said. 

Some people don’t experience any symptoms at all, and Typhoid Mary, the obstinate cook, immediately comes to mind. It is believed she had infected 51 people with typhoid fever (3 of whom died) because she refused to acknowledge she had the disease and didn’t cooperate with medical authorities. 

Mary became the first individual in the United States identified as an asymptomatic (silent) carrier of the disease in the early 20th century, and she was compulsorily quarantined for 16 years.

Since there is a dire shortage of COVID-19 tests in the United States, everyone should act as if they are silent carriers and take necessary precautions: social distancing, wearing a mask, and religiously washing hands. 

“CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”

The virus can linger on surfaces for up to:

72 hours – plastics 

48 hours – steel 

24 hours – cardboard  

Also, the virus can be detected in the air for up to 3 hours.

Granted, it is tough to follow all the above mentioned precautions, but we have no other choice if we want to stop the spread of the disease faster and avoid many unnecessary infections and deaths. Please, for the sake of your health, the health of your loved ones, and everyone in our community, always wear a mask when out in public.



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