To the editor:

As I write this weekend (May 9-10) the number of positive coronavirus tests in Rice County has jumped to over 100, some twenty times what it was just several weeks ago. And by the time this letter appears, we will surely have topped 150, maybe 200. Current state projections have the COVID-19 peak coming mid-June with other waves to follow throughout the year.

Here’s the point: this virus is pneumatically prolific—it rides boldly forth on the breath in search of our lungs. “At this point in time,” as our governor likes to say, we must agree to wear a face covering when we shop, especially at our local food stores. By “we” that means everyone, employees and customers alike. We’ll soon get used to it. That’s how we respect and care for each other.

Currently at Cub Foods and Family Fare in Northfield, employees wear masks but only about half of the shoppers are so equipped. At Just Food, my favorite grocery, not all employees choose face coverings while maybe two-thirds of the customers do. The aisles at JF are narrower, however, and it is difficult to maintain distance, so without masks the risk increases. Grocery stores can easily become hot zones.

It’s high time for each of our grocery stores to make face coverings mandatory for both staff and shoppers. (CDC urges this, and stores like Costco and Whole Foods require it). Perhaps enough masks will soon be on hand for the stores to give one to customers who do not have one. For those who refuse to don a face covering, curb-side pick up or home delivery are options.

Kathryn Ananda-Owens wrote last week in this paper of a friend who died of COVID-19: “I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else dying the way he did. So when I show up at your establishment, I wear a mask. This is how I care about you and your customers and our community…”

David Sudermann

Northfield

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