Cases of COVID-19 in Washington County and across the state are on the rise.
As of Thursday, there were 920 total positive cases — 343 in the last two weeks — in the county.
In Nebraska, there were 106,617 — 29,241 in the last two weeks, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
More alarming is the hospitalization rate. More than 21% or 961 of 4,561 staffed hospital beds are taken by coronavirus patients.
That's why local officials at Memorial Community Hospital and Health System and Three Rivers Public Health Department and state officials, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, are calling for Nebraskans to “step up” and “do more” to slow the spread of the virus. This includes wearing a mask.
While there is no mandate, Ricketts is urging Nebraskans to wear a mask when they are in crowded places and unable to maintain 6 feet distance.
Everyone has their own opinion on masks. But among public health officials, masks should be used.
According to an article published Thursday in the New York Times, some of the research may be imperfect and still evolving, but masks are necessary to slow the pandemic.
“The more people who wear a mask, the more the community is protected and therefore the more you individually benefit, Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 response program told the Times. “It's like a herd effect.”
Throughout history, Americans have made sacrifices, particularly during World War II when the government imposed restrictions, including rations on fuel, oil, coal, nylon, silk, shoes and food such as meat, dairy and coffee.
Wearing a mask seems like such a small sacrifice in comparison. Do your part to protect yourself, your family and those around you.
Please, wear a mask.