To the editor,
The following COVID-19 data was from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine on the morning of Nov. 7: South Korea, which has a population of 51.6 million people in a country of 38,691 square miles, has had 26,146 cases of COVID-19 with 461 deaths. The US, which has a population of 328.2 million people in a country of 3,796,742 square miles, has had 8,779,703 cases of COVID-19 with 226,723 deaths. We have more than 56 times as many cases as South Korea and more than 77 times as many deaths.
The people in South Korea aren’t any smarter than people in the US, and they haven’t had better medicine or health treatments. However, their populations have simply had a better response. They made public health and the protection of human life their highest priority. Unfortunately, the over politicization of our response to COVID-19 has people taking sides on whether or not to follow the government guidance designed to limit the spread of this disease and save lives.
Fortunately for us, Oswego County has done far better than most areas of the US. It is because of the outstanding work of the Oswego County Health Department, the effective and timely communication of COVID-19 response guidelines and news by our press, and the generally good response of our citizens. It is also quite likely that our good luck to not have very many people actively infected with this virus in our county. However, now that we are seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases in the rural parts of the country, we need to recognize that if we aren’t careful, we could be next. Indeed, Oswego has recently had another death due to COVID-19, and our case count continues to rise.
The two most common guidelines we have heard from our health department is to observe good social distancing, and for each of us to wear a mask. If we could all simply recognize that we wear our masks for the protection of others and not for ourselves, we could drop this politicized notion that the wearing of a mask is a personal choice. Unfortunately, the very early guidance on mask wearing was inconsistent, and this led to politicizing of this issue.
We should also recognize that when we wear our masks, we need to wear them properly by making sure that it covers both our mouth and our nose so that all air we exhale from either our mouth or our nose is exhaled into our masks so that our masks can capture the droplets to protect others.
Wearing a simple cloth mask over our nose and mouth is a simple and highly effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19, which saves lives.
We also need to take the few extra steps to stay at least six feet away from each other as much as possible. This means that we look out to see who is nearby, we follow the one way aisles in our grocery stores, and we give each other space.
People in Oswego are wonderful and we like to see each other. COVID-19 doesn’t change that. It is just that during this pandemic we need to see each other from a bit of distance in order to protect each other.
If we follow the very simple yet highly effective guidelines from our public health professionals, by wearing our masks properly over our nose and mouth, washing our hands with soap for at least 20-30 seconds, not touching our face, avoiding close contact with people who don’t live in our home, and monitoring our own symptoms, we can protect each other and keep the numbers low in Oswego County. If we don’t we could be like the rural areas in our country where COVID-19 case counts are surging and people are getting sick and dying unnecessarily. Complacency with COVID-19 can kill, and we need the compassion to protect each other.
Of course, if anyone has questions about COVID-19, they can call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3330 or the NY State COVID-19 Hotline at 888-364-3065. When I called these two numbers, I was more impressed by the answers from our own Oswego County Health Department. We are lucky to have such good public health. We simply need to listen to them and follow their sound guidance.