Wearing a mask is certainly not my favorite, and I doubt you like it very much either.

But you know how it’s just courteous to return the grocery buggy to its designated spot? Sure, it’s not all that convenient for you and it takes an extra step — and it’s certainly not as easy as abandoning it in the middle of the parking lot — but it’s thoughtful and helps others. 

Similarly, wearing a mask is just the right thing to do.

It protects you to an extent, but it also protects others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask usage to protect others around you, as you could be infected with COVID-19 and not show symptoms. 

When combined with social distancing and frequent handwashing, masks have proven to be effective.

The State of Alabama instituted its statewide mask mandate in July at the height of the pandemic. Since then, cases have trended downward throughout the state, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. There was a small spike in August, but still not nearly as high as July, then cases continued to trend downward again. Now, we’re back on the uptick for cases across the state. The total number of cases each day hasn’t yet reached the heights before the mask mandate, but it looks as though positive cases are on a steady rise.

Those who thought the election would cure COVID might need to head back to the crystal ball and let us know when we can expect this awful virus to actually disappear, but for now, it’s clear the pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Now, let’s all do our part to mitigate it the best we can. 

Alexander City is seeing a surge in cases. Schools are closed to face-to-face learning due to a rise in cases and it seems every day I hear of another person I know who is suffering with the virus. Many of us will get it and recover just fine, but that’s not who we’re worried about here. It’s the vulnerable population we need to be concerned for — our parents, grandparents, older co-workers or friends, or our loved ones who have underlying medical conditions. I am one of those people with an underlying medical condition and also have vulnerable parents, and I probably speak for those like me when I say I truly appreciate people who are diligent about wearing their mask. 

We all hate it. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient and so many other negative words. It eliminates a level of human interaction we love — smiling, seeing facial expressions. On top of that, we can’t really hug or have that touch with loved ones outside our household, and that’s just flat-out hard. 

But it’s a simple measure you can take to protect those around you. You don’t know if that person shopping alongside you in the grocery store aisle has an underlying medical condition or maybe he or she is out shopping for their elderly parent. You don’t know if you maybe exposed yourself to COVID-19 at a gathering you were at earlier that same week. Now, you’ve potentially exposed an innocent stranger and her vulnerable family just because you wanted to defy the mask mandate.

Is it worth it to spread a deadly virus to others who are trying so hard to steer clear of it? To me, no. I’ll wear my mask all day long if it means protecting others. I have seen what this virus can do and I would rather be safe than sorry. 

TPI business manager, Angela Mullins, described it perfectly in a conversation earlier this week when she compared mask usage to salvation and believing in God. We can’t see heaven or the Lord, but Christians believe in both and encourage others to do the same. Maybe you don’t believe in God or heaven, but what is it hurting you to just believe anyway? Nothing. And if you do believe and do your due diligence to honor your faith, you’ve got better chances of entering the Pearly Gates when your time on Earth ends. 

So maybe you don’t believe wearing a mask is effective. Maybe you think it’s all a hoax. But what is it hurting you to wear a mask and protect others anyway? Nothing. And statistics show this thing certainly isn’t a hoax and has taken real lives, so the facts should at least lead you in the direction being cautious is the right thing to do. 

I know we’ve all seen our fair share of hard times during this crazy year. Whether it was leaving quarantine with detriment to your mental health, being unemployed, struggling with childcare or not being able to see your loved one in a long-term care facility, we’ve all been through difficulties in a pandemic we didn’t see coming. It’s been hard and we’re ready for it to be over.

We’re all ready to see our neighbors in the grocery store and be able to smile and hug them, but we have to hold on a bit longer.

The more we mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the quicker it’ll be over.

Let’s all do our part.

Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers’ newspapers. She can be reached at santana.wood@alexcityoutlook.com

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.