Dear Patients,

As your provider for medically sound advice, I want to bring to your attention some facts about wearing a mask for the protection of those in your community.  Due to the EXTREMELY CONTAGIOUS nature of the virus, the number of COVID-19 pandemic cases continues to double EVERY 5-7 days in Nebraska.  And this is not just for people who live and work in hot spots such as meat packing plants or the county next door.  Many may be your friends and neighbors who will only have mild symptoms – some not even realizing that they are sick.  Sadly, COVID-19 can lead to serious illness and as we all know can be deadly.  And it is when people don’t know that they are sick that the potential for spread is at its worst.

This is why masks are important.  Not just for yourself, but to protect the people around you.  Think of it as a generous, caring act of kindness.  Even when you see others not conforming.  Especially at that time.  When you wear your mask at all times in public, you are sending a message that says “I put the health and well-being of my community first”.  You see, that stranger you don’t really know may have a grandchild with a congenital heart defect.  Or the person you just passed in the corridor may be caring for an elderly grandparent.  Or how about that patient in our waiting room who takes a medication for psoriasis that makes them more likely to get infected.  There are so many invisible “underlying conditions” that put people at risk.

In the past week, we have seen more and more people out and about without face covering and, therefore, without regard to those around them.  When you see me in public, rest assured that I will be wearing my mask to protect you.  I hope you will consider this advice and pledge to protect others by wearing your mask or face covering at all times in public. Ask your family and friends to do so too.  And suggest a policy of masks in the stores and businesses you visit.    In doing so, you can sleep better at night with the comfort that you are not unknowingly spreading a silent virus to others.  If you choose to ignore this, we will have a longer time spent sheltering at home, more time social distancing from our loved ones, and might have a worse outbreak in the second wave of infection.

That is my medically sound advice to you.  We must do the right thing to help one another through this pandemic.

Jason S. Papenfuss, M.D.