Vermilion County’s continued increase in COVID-19 infections can’t be stopped with a magic pill. An effective, safe vaccine against the deadly virus, which has killed about 9,000 people in Illinois, still is weeks, if not months, away.

In the meantime, local businesses are forced to temporarily shut down and local schools announce moves to all online learning as employees, staff and others test positive for the disease.

Until researchers can safely provide a vaccine against coronavirus, the rest of us need to do what we can to minimize the risk to ourselves and to others.

Scientists say the two easiest steps to take to reduce the spread of the virus is to wash your hands frequently and well, and to wear a mask when sharing space with others.

Everyone should wear a mask any time they will be within 6 feet of others, and simply making it routine to wear one out in public is a good idea.

Somehow people decided to mix politics and science. Science remains based on facts. Politics often are not. When it comes to deadly diseases, it seems to us facts serve us better.

A trip to many local stores will show some people still have little regard for their own safety and for the safety of others. For whatever reason, they think going about without a mask is their “right.” That’s irresponsible. Wearing a mask to protect others is no different than banning smoking in public areas to prevent problems caused by secondhand smoke or from requiring use of seat belts to protect passengers in vehicles.

Some people might not like those rules, but the facts show that reducing secondhand smoke and requiring seat belts prevent serious disease and injuries. The same thing goes for masks.

Going about without a mask only prolongs the spread of the virus and increases its detrimental effects on the local economy.

Vermilion County’s latest reports on the number of positive tests put the county at risk for a return to more severe restrictions on bars, restaurants and other businesses.

So even if you don’t believe the scientists, if you think wearing a mask infringes on your “rights,” do the right thing and wear a mask in public. It will help local businesses avoid another crippling round of sanctions and will protect you, your family and countless others from exposure from a potentially deadly disease.

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