OPINION: Best way to stop spread of COVID-19 is to act like you have it

There’s a joke I tell my American friends to give them a better understanding of Canadians: How do you get 100 Canadians out of a pool?

Ask them.

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For the most part, we are a polite bunch, and do what we are told. Not everyone, but as a group we tend to follow the rules. Remember the Olympics? We stood in line for five hours for a zipline ride. No complaining, there’s the line, stand in it. OK.

But now we are really being put to the test. Wash your hands. Keep six feet – sorry, two metres - away. Sneeze into your sleeve. Stay home. In B.C. at least, it seems to be working.

The one thing I thought we should also do is wear something – anything – over your mouth and nose. It’s not going to stop people from getting the virus, but it might - and I emphasize might – stop them from spreading it. A large number of people who had no clue they were carriers spread the virus, and that’s what needs to stop, through any measure possible.

It doesn’t take much to infect someone with coronavirus. You don’t need to sneeze as just talking expels micro droplets. Don’t believe it? Ask the choir in Washington where 45 of 60 people were infected by singing. Two people died.

A homemade mask, a bandana, a scarf, anything is better than nothing. Now it seems that’s what we are being told as a possible barrier to spreading it.

Is it scientifically proven? Maybe not, but what’s the harm. The issue is does it give people a false sense of security, and let their guard down in other areas. Remember, we’re Canadians, we do what we’re told. Just add it to the list, we’ll keep following it. And wash your hands if you touch it.

Other cultures embrace the wearing of masks, but for the most part the rest of us don’t. It’s a new world, time for a change, because otherwise we might have to go through this again in the future.

Lots of people I have spoken with don’t want to wear one. It won’t help. The droplets get through anyway. It won’t stop me from getting it. Or the big one – I don’t have it. All of which may, or may not, be true.

You should wear a mask because those statements might be true. You should wear a mask because the person beside you, or beside your kids or parents, might have it. You should wear a mask to make others feel comfortable wearing one, which just might save a life.

Think of it this way: We have a pretty good idea what happens when we don’t wear masks in the face of a pandemic. Other parts of the world where masks are common aren’t seeing the same kind of spread.

It’s time to adopt a new fashion statement, so we can get rid of this thing and get back to some sort of normal life. Perhaps we need to get to a place where not wearing one in public is as uncomfortable as smoking, littering or not picking up after your dog has become.

Act like you have it. Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep two metres back, stay home. We’re almost there.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is past president of Deltassist.

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