Our view: Show respect when visiting lakes country

Herald pull quote, 5/23/2020

Are homemade cloth masks effective to control the spread of the coronavirus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes so. The CDC advises the “use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

KTSP-TV in Minneapolis reported recently that Dr. Elie Berbari, the head of the infectious diseases arm of the Mayo Clinic, backs the use of masks, too.

“If everybody is wearing them (masks) that can create a lot of protection for the community," Berbari said in the KTSP report.

And from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz: "I strongly encourage all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade cloth face covering when they leave their homes and travel to any public setting where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”


Knowing this, it’s puzzling to see so many choose not to wear masks. It seems especially prevalent among outdoor enthusiasts, a group that historically has been keen to adhere to conservation and safety standards, but many of whom now seem in a state of rebellion over mask and social-distancing guidelines.

The Herald has seen it and heard about it. A recent email outlined how a Minnesota resident who lives in a fishing hotspot worries about tourists spreading coronavirus in their town.

“Yesterday, when I went to the store, I did not see any fishermen practicing social distancing or wearing a mask,” he wrote. “One fisherman … coughed into his hand and then used the same hand to open the store door.”

We’ve seen it first-hand, too, including in local stores specific to outdoorsmen – customers not wearing masks and showing little concern for others.

Is it evidence of the historic independence of sportsmen? Is it political?

Whatever the cause, it makes no sense and is endangering the people who live in recreation destinations, particularly in lakes country.

Interestingly, a University of Minnesota expert may have stoked this controversy. Dr. Michael Osterholm recently said masks among the general public may not help much to mitigate coronavirus.

Yet during a segment on Thursday’s “CBS This Morning,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said he believes even basic cloth masks are helpful.


“I think what Dr. Osterholm was saying, which I agree with, is that (masks are) not a substitute for everything else,” Jha said. “... If you think a cloth mask is good enough and you don’t do anything else, that’s probably risky. But cloth masks, on top of everything else we have been doing, is added protection.”

In the first few weeks of Minnesota’s fishing season, some destinations have been busy with tourists who are itchy to get outdoors after weeks of isolation. Unfortunately, they could be the start of a wave of coronavirus cases in the small towns along the way.

According to so many sources, wearing a mask can help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. But if nothing else, wearing a mask in the stores and public places in the towns of northern Minnesota is a common courtesy and a sign of respect for the people who live there.

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