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Now is a time to come together. But not in the way we long to do. Not around the table with parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and grandparents, as many of us would normally be doing today. Not in churches or synagogues. But to come together in a way that says, “I care more about your health than my own personal freedom or wants right now.”

Along with the grief that comes with giving up our routines, connections and job security, our communities are also facing confusion and frustration. Public health guidelines are changing and evolving, which could cause you to ask, “Who can I trust?”

At first, we were told healthy people don’t need to wear masks — and in fact shouldn’t go out and buy masks, to save them for medical workers, caregivers and first responders. Now, advancing research about this new coronavirus shows that everyone should wear a mask or homemade face covering in public to help prevent people from unknowingly spreading the illness.

Research is showing that people who are asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) or pre-symptomatic can pass on the virus to another person nearby, even just by speaking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why everyone, even those who are seemingly healthy, are now advised to wear a cloth face covering in public, especially in areas where there is community spread of the virus, which is true for both Ada and Canyon counties.

Other guidelines haven’t changed: wash your hands a lot; stay six-feet apart in public; reserve surgical masks and N-95 respirators for medical workers and first responders. (Find a guide for making your own mask, no sewing required, on A12 of Friday’s Idaho Press and on CDC’s website, cdc.gov.)

We all want this to be over — the loneliness and stir-craziness, the anxiety over income and illness, the fear for the future of our businesses, the longing to see our friends and families and students again. We want to get back to work, to school, to our normal lives. But in getting there, let’s do all we can to prevent the loss of life.

Our understanding of how to best accomplish that is evolving. But don’t lose heart. Continue to practice the most up-to-date guidance. Even if you feel silly or over-the-top wearing a face covering at the store. It’s not like declining to wear a helmet, which is for your own protection. Wearing a mask is primarily a step to protect others. Let’s show solidarity, though from a distance, as we get through this.

Our editorials are based on the majority opinions of our editorial board. Not all opinions are unanimous. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison and community members Tami Dooley, John Jackson, Chase Johnson, Melissa Morales, Jane Suggs and Devon Van Essen. Editor Holly Beech is a nonvoting member.

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