An article on the front page today provides some sobering news: Vermont reported 72 new COVID-19 cases this morning, the highest number of cases reported since the start of the pandemic and almost double the number of new cases reported the previous day.

As the virus surges throughout the United States, President-Elect Joseph Biden Jr. has begun preparing for how he will manage the pandemic by naming several high-profile advisers — including a former surgeon general and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner — and imploring Americans to wear masks.

“A mask is not a political statement, but it’s a good way to start pulling the country together,” Mr. Biden said this week.

Biden has said he will ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states; if they refuse, he will work with local officials to get mandates in place.

More than 130,500 new cases were announced in the United States on Monday, the second-highest total of the pandemic, and the sixth day in a row the country exceeded 100,000 cases in a single day. Twelve states and the territory of Guam set single-day records for new cases.

Across the country, governors and local leaders have put new restrictions in place in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

“State officials say this concerning development highlights a trend of increasing positive cases as clusters and outbreaks grow across the state. These clusters and outbreaks often trace back to Vermonters traveling out of state and to social gatherings like baby showers, Halloween parties, deer camps and other small gatherings where masking and physical distancing break down,” read a statement from Vermont officials on Wednesday.

“I understand that Vermonters feel fatigued from the pandemic, its impact on all of us and the sacrifices it has required,” said Governor Scott. “As I have said throughout this pandemic, we all have to do our part to keep each other safe, and we must continue to follow the public health practices of wearing a mask, staying 6-feet apart, avoiding crowded places and quarantining when you are sick. We also have to be smart about how many people we come in contact with and work together to limit that number, so we can slow the spread now, protect our neighbors, keep our kids in school and keep our economy open.”

Vermonters are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 if they have recently attended any event or gathering with people from outside their small social circle, have traveled out of state, have had a visitor from out of state or anyone that has been a near or close contact of a COVID positive individual.

Despite Biden’s recommendation to governors, Americans are increasingly adopting the use of cloth face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the latest science may convince even more to do so.

In an editorial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, CDC reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities. There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

“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. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that cloth face coverings provide source control — that is, they help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others. The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities wear face coverings also.

More challenging days are ahead as holidays approach, requiring attention and proper precautions.

“Vermonters must understand that by engaging in riskier activities, like attending parties and gatherings — even small ones — there will continue to be a surge in cases and we will see community spread like the rest of the country. Vermonters have worked hard to protect our communities, keep our businesses open and send children back to school. Now is not the time to give up on the hard work and sacrifices over the last seven months,” the governor stated Wednesday.

He was more diplomatic than we will be: Wear the mask; do your part. Stop this thing.

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