To the Editor:
We on Martha’s Vineyard have largely been spared from the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not due to luck, but rather to adherence to basic principles of managing a respiratory disease epidemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that good public health practices can make a difference. If we wash our hands, avoid crowds, maintain a safe distance from others, and show respect to others by wearing a mask when we need to be near them, we can markedly reduce our risk of infection and the risk to others.
As we enjoy the beauties of our Island home this summer, we need to remember that the COVID-19 coronavirus is not on vacation. The openness of our beaches, and our abundant fresh air and sunshine, offer us opportunities to have fun and stay safe.
To do so, we need to be personally responsible for our health. We also need to remind others to be responsible as well. Our health is jeopardized when others act irresponsibly. The Dukes County Health Council encourages each of us to speak up and remind others to be responsible, wash their hands, avoid crowds, socially distance, and respect others who are wearing masks, and to always do that in a respectful and nonjudgmental way.
The M.V. Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead in reminding us all of safe practices that reduce chances of becoming infected. The chamber’s message is simple: “Cover your face, wash your hands, respect social distance, and stay home when sick.”
Mary Jane Williams, Ph.D., R.N., chair
Dukes County Health Council