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Mask Up, Southwest Michigan. No Mask Slackers Here.

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While the requirement of wearing masks to stop the spread of disease may seem new to you, this practice and the reactions to it are not. Over a hundred years ago, Americans were encouraged to wear masks to combat the Spanish flu. Mask ordinances were passed. People complained about face coverings. Those who refused to wear one were called “mask slackers.” But valuable lessons were learned that guide recommendations today.

Since July 10, Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-147 has required Michiganders to wear face coverings whenever in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces. Businesses open to the public can refuse entry or service to those who decline to wear a face covering. This order was issued because nobody is immune to COVID-19—what is a mild illness for one person, could be life-threatening for someone else. Health officials confirm that masking up and continuing to stay six feet from others offer the best chances to avoid bringing the virus home, keep schools and workplaces open, and contain COVID-19. To help local businesses focus on getting back to business, the state has put together valuable creative assets and other factsheets, educational videos, and print-ready posters.

The saying goes: “When you wear a mask, you protect me; when I wear a mask, I protect you.” If you’re a modern-day “mask slacker,” consider this before you head out: droplets from one cough or sneeze can infect a person up to 27 feet away. Be honest with yourself: are you always vigilant about what and who is around you in a 27-foot radius? Or are you sometimes distracted by that oh-so-important text, trying to find that must-have-item on the grocery store shelf, or unable to see clearly out of the eyes on the back of your head? Gotcha! So, the next time you enter a local business, wear your mask. Remember that you are there to enjoy the business’s services or goods. By wearing a mask, you are helping that business owner provide you with the best customer service without the distraction of having to deal with a “mask slacker.”

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