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Editorial: Do your part to protect others in the community

The federal government issued new guidance on the use of cloth face masks in the last few weeks, with the most current recommendation being for people to wear them in public settings.

Some entities are going beyond that recommendation and requiring them, such as at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, where all patients, visitors and staff are required to wear them.

Why are masks so important? The simple answer is to slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, masks or cloth face coverings can help prevent your germs from infecting others — particularly in situations where you may have the virus but be asymptomatic.

The health agency states wearing a mask will not protect you from others who may spread the virus, so all people are still asked to practice good personal hygiene, including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and practicing social distancing. People who are sick should still stay home.

Masks should be routinely washed depending on how often they are used.

Cloth face masks can be made from simple household items such as T-shirts or bandannas and can be made from home. The Centers for Disease Control advises people to make sure the masks fit snugly, include multiple layers of fabric, are secure with ties or ear loops and allow for breathing without restriction.

Wearing a mask is something easy that can be done to protect our fellow community members if you have to get groceries or gas, and we encourage all to consider doing their part to help their neighbors.