COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohio's new COVID-19 cases remained higher than average over the last few weeks, Governor Mike DeWine urged people to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing to stop the spread, especially ahead of the holiday weekend.
Dr. Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, said the science is clear: wearing a mask protects both the wearer of the mask and other people. And right now, Hoffman said, it's one of the only tools available to protect against COVID-19 spread.
"It can be a little bit uncomfortable to wear a mask for a long period of time, but it's a small step that you can take to protect yourself and to save other people's lives," Hoffman said. "And it doesn't seem like too much to ask in a pandemic."
On Monday, at a press briefing, DeWine said, "We need more people to wear masks. When people go into a restaurant, when the people go into a jewelry store, when they go in and buy anything inside, they need to have a mask on."
Hoffman emphasized that other countries, in Asia and Europe, have been more rigorous about mask-wearing and have had good results. She said it doesn't make sense not to do that here in Ohio.
"People should not feel that not wearing a mask is brave or courageous or shows that they're invincible," Hoffman said. "It's actually a very, very selfish act that can cost lives."
With the holiday weekend coming up, DeWine urged people getting together to be careful.
Hoffman encouraged people to gather outdoors instead of indoors, maintain social distancing where possible, and continue wearing masks, even around friends and family.
"People should not forget that we are in the midst of the pandemic," Hoffman said. "There is no cure. There's no vaccine. And so they need to do their part."
DeWine said that "the jury is still out" on what Ohio's future looks like with COVID-19.
"We determine our future just as Ohioans determined their future during the early parts of this virus and did a phenomenal job," DeWine said. "We have to do that now."
It is not mandatory in Ohio to wear a mask. Dr. Hoffman said while mandates could be effective, they may also lead to more defiance from people who do not want to wear them or even lawsuits. She said encouraging mask-wearing and modeling that, particularly by government officials, could lead to a good degree of compliance.
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