A lesson from hospital workers and two hair stylists: Wear the mask and we’ll all be safer

COVID-19 is very contagious. Why? Because it is “novel” or new. We do know, however, how to reduce the spread.

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In the last six months, writes the president of Edward-Elmhurst Health, hospitals and those work there have learned a great deal about COVID-19.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

As we begin to see another uptick in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, I’d like to share some of what we’ve learned at Edward-Elmhurst Health in the past six months. 

  • Most people who contract the coronavirus (85%) have no symptoms or mild-to-moderate symptoms. 
  • Some people have more severe symptoms and need to be hospitalized. Those individuals are more likely to be older, immunocompromised, or have chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, heart conditions or obesity. But not always. 

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  • Whether hospitalized patients die or are discharged home, the disease is devastating. Patients are extremely sick, often requiring mechanical ventilation, intensive care and weeks in the hospital. The suffering experienced by our patients and their families has been immeasurable and has had a profound and unforgettable impact on our healthcare workers. 
  • COVID-19 is very contagious. Why? Because it is “novel” or new. This means our bodies have no means to fight it. 
  • We do know, however, how to reduce the spread and your likelihood of contracting the virus: Wear a mask. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Practice physical distancing — at least six feet apart.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control published a report about two hair stylists who were positive for COVID-19. Between them, they serviced 139 clients. Not one of the 139 exposed individuals became infected. Why? Because the salon insisted that the stylists and their clients wear masks.

That’s it. Quite simple, isn’t it?

Our healthcare team has worked long and grueling hours over months to do everything possible to protect the health of our community. Their sacrifices have been and continue to be humbling.

The way you can protect yourself and those around you is simple, but not always easy to practice, especially at a gathering where those around you are not wearing masks. I get it. But there is simply no denying that wearing a mask is the most effective means we have for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

It is the responsible thing to do.

Wear a mask and protect yourself and those around you. And take a stand; remind others of the importance of wearing a mask. It is our civic responsibility and the honorable thing to do.

Mary Lou Mastro
System CEO
Edward-Elmhurst Health

Grandchildren will be ashamed

Okay. I’m going to take one more shot at reaching my old white peers who are determined to stick with Donald Trump, come what may.

Some time in the future, if you live long enough with our nation’s bungled response to the coronavirus, your grandchildren are going to confront you and say:

“Why did you do this to us? You helped steal our fresh air and clean water, jeopardized our wild animals and National Parks. You looked the other way while our institutions were being dismantled and our freedoms eroded. Your support for Trump made cruelty commonplace, dishonesty and racism the norm. You aided and abetted the destruction of our democracy. For what? So that a few people with a lot of money could pile up more ? So that immigrants who speak Spanish would be tossed over a wall? So that a lifelong punk could take over as a Putin-like dictator?” 

And then those grandchildren will say one last thing to you: “You make us ashamed.” 

Leonard Hall, LaGrange Highlands 

A mayor’s spite

I grow tired of the grudge Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds toward the Chicago Teachers Union. Though the mayor now has seen reason and agreed with the teachers (and many parents) that schools are not now safe to open for in-person learning, she apparently feels the CTU must never be given credit for anything, even when they’re right. 

While it is possible that the mayor might have reached the same conclusion as the union on her own, her spiteful attitude toward them gets in the way of the co-operation that is needed to defeat the coronavirus. Enough!

Steven Cohen, Evanston

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