As America’s most trusted profession (2020 Gallup poll) for 18 years in a row, we as nurses understand the importance of protecting our own health as well as protecting that of our patients. Whether we are nurses at the bedside in hospitals, nurses in our schools helping students and staff alike, whether we are nurse practitioners in our own clinics or offices or nurse midwives delivering babies, we know we must help stop the spread of this virus.

One way to do that is to wear a mask. It’s not fun. Some of us with our other health care colleagues wear one 10-12 hours a day. We know it works to slow the spread of a virus that has killed so many people in our country.

In Japan, where there was no lockdown, subways still running, businesses open including karaoke bars, only 744 people have died in their population of 128 million. More than 90,000 of our people have died in our country of 328 million. What are they doing? They all wear masks everywhere and they social distance. In South Korea, there have been 263 deaths among 52 million people. Everyone wears masks.

New studies and sophisticated computer models make the case for mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One group of researchers found if a majority of people, around 90 percent, wore masks in public, we could flatten the curve, cutting infections by 80 percent (research and scientific models from professor Dekai Wu, University of California, Berkeley International Computer Science Institute and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). If we follow the science, if we all participate, we will all be safer.

We will wear our masks in public to protect you. Will you wear yours to protect us and our fellow New Mexicans?

Linda Siegle works with New Mexico Nursing groups — New Mexico Nurses Association, American College of Nurse Midwives New Mexico Chapter, New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council and the New Mexico School Nurses Association.

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