BMS All Star Race Safety

Face masks were mandatory for fans when they were not in their seats at the Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race on Wednesday.

Just as businesses generally don’t serve people without shoes or shirts, they shouldn’t serve those who are not wearing face coverings.

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, struggling to contain the highly contagious coronavirus. Masks are a valuable weapon in helping to stop the spread of the respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

Under state restrictions, you’re supposed to wear a face covering when inside a business, like a grocery store, or a public building, such as a library — unless you’re eating, drinking, exercising or have a health condition. That also applies to public transportation.

But apparently there are those who refuse to wear masks, selfishly putting others at risk for COVID-19. Wearing a mask is a sign of respect for the well-being of others. Why would you balk at donning a face covering if it could save lives?

The reported number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, both in Virginia and the United States. So we hope that Virginia’s plan to strengthen its enforcement of mask and social distancing rules help stanch the spread. A surge of new cases largely concentrated in the commonwealth’s eastern region, which includes the popular beaches of Hampton Roads, spurred state officials to bolster enforcement efforts.

“There is clearly substantial community spread,” Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday. “If we don’t take this seriously now, we could see bigger increases across our commonwealth.”

No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. It’s that simple.

Since not every state has a public mask mandate, we applaud those national chains that are stepping up. On Wednesday, Walmart became the latest retailer to require customers to wear face coverings, joining Starbucks, Best Buy and Costco.

In an editorial published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.”

“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.”

Indeed we do.

— Pamela Stallsmith

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