SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- With the easing of restrictions, this Memorial Day weekend we'll see a lot of people back-out in public and health officials are encouraging everyone to continue practicing the safeguards we've been taught.
"Obviously with less restriction comes more responsibility," said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure when addressing the need for the public to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.
"Our community is shifting from a phase with mandated restrictions and limitations to a phase that calls on all of us to exercise our own personal responsibility," said Springfield-Greene Co. Health Director Clay Goddard. "Each of us has to be thinking of the good of ourselves, our families and our communities. We're going to have to say no to some of the things we want to do. We don't want to move backwards and I'm calling on everyone to take this seriously."
The importance of following through with safety measures is evident
in a study by Columbia University that shows if the U.S. had begun imposing social distancing measures just ONE-week earlier than it did in March, 36,000 fewer people would have died. TWO weeks earlier would have saved 54,000 lives which was about 83% of our nation's total deaths at that point.
CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards is concerned that the public is backsliding away from what's been working to keep the virus from spreading.
"There's three things proven effective," he pointed out. "Hygiene, physical distancing and wearing a mask. In our community I'm really, really worried because this isn't a civil rights issue, this isn't about patriotism or political party, this is about being smart. And our community is not being smart right now. They are not wearing masks when they are within six-feet of others."
Masks has even taken on political-overtones with national studies showing 76 percent of Democrats wearing them compared to 59 percent of Republicans.
Some mask-wearers have even been called "snowflakes", a term used to describe an overly sensitive person. It's becoming more evident that even a health-based decision has become a partisan issue.
"I've seen no registered coronavirus by party," Edwards said.
"Anyone who considers someone wearing a mask as a 'snowflake'... they're not wearing a mask to protect themselves, they're wearing it to protect you. So to me they're the opposite of a 'snowflake'. They're a hero."
Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt also weighed in on the mask question.
"We kind of looked at South Korea and Japan and other places for decades and said, 'Look! They've all got those silly masks on because it's cold season.' But I think we've learned the virtue of that. A mask is important. I think if it makes you safer and makes others safer it's a small price to pay."
"Masks matter," Edwards added. "We probably need about 60 percent of our community wearing masks to thwart this. My guess is we're way below that."
But rather than JUDGE others, officials are urging you to THINK of others this weekend.
"I know our community will do the right things," McClure said. "Because we are all in this thing together."