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Gov.  Ralph Northam spoke during Tuesday's press coronavirus press conference.

It’s simple: Wear a mask when you’re in public.

We’re in a global pandemic, fighting a highly contagious virus that knows no boundaries. Covering your face with a mask, bandana or any sort of barrier goes a long way toward blocking the transmission of COVID-19.

Starting Friday, Virginia will require that anyone age 10 and over wear a mask when they enter a public building or business, whether it’s a store, barber shop, salon or government building. That also applies to riding public transportation.

“We’re asking people to respect one another,” said Gov. Ralph Northam as he announced the order at a Tuesday press conference. “Wearing face coverings are an important step to protecting others, especially our workers.”

We agree.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings: “Your cloth face covering protects them. Their cloth face covering protects you.”

According to the CDC, “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.” Social distancing keeping 6 feet away from others who aren’t members of your household also helps.

Yet we’re still seeing people of all ages in grocery stores, big box retailers and other venues without masks. When people don’t cover their faces in public, they’re posing a threat to the health of others. Wearing a mask offers a simple solution to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus during this public health crisis.

Northam learned his lesson about being prepared when he acknowledged being caught this past Saturday without a mask on the Virginia Beach oceanfront in between meetings. A physician and state leader, he should have known better. “Next time I am out in public, I will be better prepared and I take that as my responsibility,” he said.

“We’re all forming new habits,” Northam pointed out, “and adjusting to this new normal.”

Part of that is wearing a mask in public. So do your part to contain COVID-19. Why wouldn’t you?

—Pamela Stallsmith

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