Many of you have reached out in recent days as much larger counties with higher case counts have taken steps to require face masks in businesses.
I believe this situation does include wearing a mask, but it is about much more than a mask. It is about a temporary lifestyle change.
The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way we go about our daily lives.
In early March, when we knew little about this virus and heard of the escalating issues in New York City, we took stringent steps to close businesses and asked people to stay at home – not to stop the spread of COVID-19 but to flatten the curve so that our hospitals could handle cases effectively, increase their personal protective equipment and have time to create their surge plans.
We were very successful in doing just that in Denton County.
As we reopened businesses and resumed activities in May, we knew COVID-19 cases would likely increase. That is the very nature of an illness such as this one.
The virus spreads when you are in close proximity with someone who is infected and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands frequently, avoiding close contact with others outside of your household, covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and monitoring your health.
These few simple steps can also make a difference and reduce exposure:
- Instead of going to the grocery story multiple times a week, plan one or two trips instead;
- Take advantage of patio dining at your favorite restaurants or curbside service and delivery at local businesses;
- Worship responsibly – Sit 6 feet away from fellow congregants while attending services;
- Wear a mask when interacting with people outside your household, this includes inside businesses and personal settings;
- Moreover, check in with your vulnerable neighbors, friends and relatives to see if they need anything to reduce their potential for exposure.
In fact, my parents have not strayed far from their home in months. They have not shopped, gone to church or visited friends. My kids and I run errands for them to keep them as safe as possible. I am sure we all know someone who could use a helping hand and I am asking us all to use this time to help our fellow residents. If you would like to volunteer to help in these efforts, contact us at [email protected].
I have seen families gather for picnics outdoors instead of indoors, keeping grandparents under a pavilion 10 feet away as they visit and enjoy a meal. Friends tell me how they planned drive-by birthday celebrations with balloons, signs and honking horns to honor the birthday boy or girl. We even helped think outside of the box to celebrate high school graduations.
These simple and innovative steps can significantly reduce the chance of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Our Denton County Public Health team closely monitors the situation in our county and, while the positivity rate has increased, the availability of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators has not increased dramatically. We continue to monitor these Denton County metrics daily as well as the metrics in the hospitals across DFW.
Though Denton County has more than 2,200 lab-confirmed cases, remember that more than half recovered from the COVID-19 infection. In addition, the recovery number does not include those individuals we have been unable to reach by phone to confirm their recovery even though months have passed.
As we experience an uptick in cases, it is not the time to panic. Instead, we need to focus our reliable, local statistics.
We each have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Yet we also need to exercise community responsibility.
When you wear a mask, you are wearing it for everyone else. If all of us wear masks when in contact with each other, we help one another. That is what community is all about. It is also a courtesy to others working on the frontlines.
Governor Abbott recently restricted businesses openings and limited capacity. We need our Denton County businesses open and strong. The more compliance we have with social distancing, not just in stores but in our social life, the sooner our rates will decrease and our businesses can stay open.
Together, hopefully we can find a collective path forward to reduce COVID-19 transmission without resorting to mandates.
Do the responsible thing. Wear a mask. For real-time Denton County Health Statistics check out www.dentoncounty.gov/COVIDstats.
Connect With Us
If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected], and my office number is 940-349-2820. For more information, register for my newsletter at www.Dentoncounty.gov/countyjudgenewslettersignup.