Walmart announced Wednesday it would become the largest chain in America that will require customers to wear face coverings in their stores.

The policy starts Monday, to give some time for customers to adjust and stores to prepare. It’s a good policy.

No one can argue that a nation’s economy can be shut down until this virus is under control. But we can’t just flip the switch to a supposed old normal and call it good. Masks are a gateway to keeping the government open, and while a return to normal isn’t feasible right now a return to something that resembles some normalcy is.

As a nation, we must band together to fight COVID-19. This country needs to band together just as it has for other tragedies over its time. COVID-19 is not so different in that it requires a unified front to defeat, much like other enemies.

This country’s citizens should not be waiting on a call from the government or business to start wearing a mask. Almost everyone can wear them without harm, and they do lessen the chance of an infection. They do not eliminate the chance, but they do improve odds.

That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, who both at first did not recommend them but now do.

That’s according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said those who don’t wear masks may “propagate the further spread of infection.”

Infectious disease expert Dean Blumberg and chemical engineering professor William Ristenpart, both of University of California, Davis, said earlier this month their research shows masks cut the risk of infection by 65%.

Concerned about carbon dioxide poisoning? Those claims have been debunked. They exist on social media, not in reality. Numerous professions from doctors to laborers, have long worn masks and face coverings for entire shifts.

Sarah Stanley, an associate profession for infectious diseases and vaccines at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health offered this in an Associated Press interview: “With how common mask wearing has always been, even before COVID-19, we would know if hypercapnia was a problem with wearing masks.” (Hypercapnia is a condition where there are elevated CO2 levels in blood.)

Experts say some people with preexisting respiratory illnesses may experience issues if they have tight-fitting masks, like respirators. But otherwise, masks are safe.

And the request isn’t to wear them every waking hour. But if you’re going to the store, masks are a good idea.

Don’t agree? Guess you better get your shopping at Walmart done before Monday.

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