I and thousands of my colleagues who are members of the Indiana State Medical Association applaud Gov. Eric Holcomb's order for Hoosiers to wear face masks in public. This is a vital step in preventing another surge of COVID-19.
This illness can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets even when an infected person has no symptoms. While many infected people will have a mild case of the disease, many are quite ill for weeks and others suffer devastating disease and even death.
Many of my patients are at risk for serious complications if they are infected. Those who recover often face severe debilitation and a long road back.
Since we do not have a vaccine, preventing the spread of the virus is our major weapon. The tools available to all of us in this fight are masks, staying six feet from others and washing our hands often.
Emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies shows that cloth face coverings reduce the spray of respiratory droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. Studies also show there is no significant reduction in oxygen levels or increase in carbon dioxide levels from cloth masks.
This science-based evidence has led global, national and state health organizations to encourage the use of masks.
As an area physician for more than 20 years, I ask you to mask up. It's safe, it's easy and it helps protect those you love, your friends and your community.
It may be a bit inconvenient, but it is a step that can help us safely return to work, school and other activities we cherish.
Dr. Lisa A. Hatcher, a Columbia City obstetrician and family medicine physician, is president of the Indiana State Medical Association.