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Staff Writer

Some community members are wearing masks when they’re out and about, and some are not. But everyone should — not so much to protect ourselves, but to protect others from germs we don’t even know we are carrying.

Dr. Bill Kose, vice president of special projects for Blanchard Valley Health System, said when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not recommending that everyone wear masks. This was in part because there weren’t enough masks to go around, and officials wanted to ensure that those working on the front lines would have enough.

Now, the CDC and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine are recommending that people wear masks any time they leave their homes.

At the health system, “all of our people are wearing masks,” Kose said. And, he said, they’re encouraging everyone in the community to wear one, adding that he’s found people locally are pretty good about doing so.

Masks should cover your nose as well as your mouth, Kose said.

Kose said what the mask really does is protect not the person who is wearing it, but others who encounter that person. The coronavirus is spread through droplets that can be released when a person coughs or even breathes, and wearing a mask prevents those droplets from getting out. This is important because people can spread the virus before they have symptoms, or without having symptoms at all.

Kose said wearing a mask will protect the wearer, too, to some extent, by preventing you from touching your face. He said it is important to wash your mask frequently because if you touch the mask you could contaminate the mask itself.

Mostly, though, he said wearing a mask is saying to the other people you encounter that you are protecting them.

“I think it’s symbolic. … It’s a trust thing,” he said.

Hancock Public Health shared a video on social media Tuesday, titled “I wear my mask for YOU.” In it, a variety of community leaders share why they wear their masks, with the most common reason being to protect others.

“Though we may not want to wear our mask, it’s really important in this time to help continue to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in our community,” says Mayor Christina Muryn in the video.

“I wear a face covering for my family, my friends, my coworkers, my community and my country,” says Dr. James Dowling at Marathon Petroleum Corp.

“It’s a way to show you care,” says Katherine Kreuchauf at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation.

“To help people be safe, and feel comfortable,” says Dr. Katherine Fell, president of the University of Findlay.

And Hiroaki Kawamura, a professor at the university, responds with “I think I look cooler with my mask.”

The video can be watched via the Health Department’s social media accounts.

Kose offered some troubleshooting for people who may encounter problems with wearing masks. If you wear glasses and find that wearing a mask makes them fog up, one thing that may help is washing your glasses with soap and leaving a little bit of slightly soapy residue on the glasses to coat them, then letting it dry, Kose said.

He said he’s also encountered the argument that wearing a mask may reduce the amount of oxygen and increase the carbon dioxide you’re exposed to. Kose said this should not pose a danger to the average, healthy person. If you have COPD or another lung illness and find that the mask makes you short of breath, you may need to consider not wearing it, he said.

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