Local, state and federal officials are encouraging residents to do their part and exercise diligence in wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as confirmed cases and fatalities continue to climb.
“I urge Texans to remain vigilant in our fight against this virus,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement on Saturday, Aug. 8. “Everyone must do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. We will overcome this challenge by working together. Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Abbott issued an executive order July 2 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.
“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” Abbott said.
“If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”
Statewide, there have been 8,459 fatalities — including 116 new deaths on Sunday, Aug. 9 — and 486,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those confirmed cases, some 133,058 are active, while 344,845 people are estimated to have recovered from the illness.
In Burnet County, there have been 557 positive cases of COVID-19, with nine reported fatalities and an estimated 155 recoveries. Another 388 cases are considered to still be active at this time.
Dr. Juliette Madrigal, the Burnet County Health Authority, has continued to urge the public to wear masks “whenever possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“So far, we’ve seen that people wearing masks are consistently not getting sick at the same rate of those who are not wearing masks,” Madrigal told The Highlander in June. “This is not politicial; it’s scientific. I’m not in the least interested in politics; I’m interested in keeping people from catching this.”
Madrigal’s recommendations follow that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is recommending that in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, people wear masks in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”
Redfield said COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing). These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic (or lack symptoms) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
While a mask may not protect the wearer from catching COVID-19, it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others, Redfield said.
“Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people,” he said. “Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
“The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.”