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The Clinton Herald today is kicking off a campaign in which we feature area leaders as they speak to the need to control the spread of the coronavirus – specifically the need for all of us to wear a mask.

It is important, as our story on page A1 of today’s Herald indicates. Keeping in line with what is happening in Iowa and throughout the nation, Clinton County is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Our local hospitals and their health care workers are working hard to take care of the sick and preparing for more hospitalizations by seeking to recruit nurses and increasing bed capacity.

At the same time, students are moving from the classroom to remote learning because of growing case numbers; Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds instituted a mask mandate earlier this week and tighter restrictions have again been placed on area businesses to stop the spread.

Without a vaccine at this point in time, the bottom-line advice to stop the spread comes down to three things: Wash your hands, stay home as much as you can, and wear a mask, which seems to be the most controversial of the three recommendations.

Wearing a mask has been under scrutiny since the outbreak began in early 2020. At first, health officials were unsure about how much protection would be gained from wearing a mask.

But since then, they have learned more about how the virus spreads and how masks can help stop it. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long advised people to wear masks because they help prevent people who are infected from spreading the coronavirus, just last week, the CDC added a new reason: masks can also protect wearers who are not infected.

According to a story by the Associated Press, the CDC referred to a study led by Japanese researchers that found masks block about 60% of the amount of virus that comes out of an infected person. When an uninfected person wearing a mask is near an infected person who isn’t wearing one, the amount of virus the uninfected person inhaled fell by up to 50%. But when both people are wearing masks, the decline in virus particles reaching the second person was close to 70%.

So please, if you are not wearing a mask, now is the time. It’s the least we all can do to take care of each other.

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