It was reassuring to read the recent articles by Debbie Swanson and Theresa Knox in the Herald. I want to recognize and thank all the individuals at the Grand Forks Public Health Department for their tireless work during this pandemic. They run testing, do contact tracing and follow up with infected individuals.

They put themselves at risk in service to our community. Grand Forks has been fortunate in keeping our infection rate relatively low, in large part because of the work of our Public Health Department. As citizens we don’t often see the work they accomplish, but we greatly benefit from their expertise and dedication. Public Health has been working seven days a week since March, without a break. They deserve our thanks and support.

Public Health is a good source of accurate and up-to-date information on the virus and our response. The goal of Public Health is to help improve community health. Better overall health may lessen the severity of disease in individuals exposed to SARS-CoV19. You can find more information on their web page:

https://www.grandforksgov.com/government/city-departments/public-health

I believe that regardless of our viewpoint, we all want the same outcomes. We want to keep our loved ones, friends and neighbors safe from the virus. We want business to open, we want to work, we want schools to reopen, and we want to attend sporting events. We can have this if we’re willing to take the precautions put forward by Public Health. Socially distance, wash hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and wear a mask.

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SARS-CoV19 has unique characteristics we don’t see in other viral illnesses, like the flu. With other viral illnesses people start to express symptoms relatively quickly, this isn’t the case with SARS-CoV19. Even if you don’t feel sick, you can pass the virus to others, but if you’re wearing a mask you reduce the chances of spread. Countries where citizens regularly wear masks have experienced fewer cases and fewer deaths.

If we all practiced these simple measures we could protect each other and open our city safely. America has faced challenges before and endured, are we going to allow a virus to paralyze our country when we could use these simple measures to limit viral spread?

Our masks protect you. Your mask protects us.” Public Health: Prevent, promote, protect!

Pyle is chairwoman of the Grand Forks Board of Health.