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Masking 2.0

“Do what you can within your power to reduce, delay or stop the crisis. Weigh action based on your organization’s core values. Keep sharp eyes on outcomes and fluctuating circumstances.” [Come Out Stronger, from the Preface]

These are fundamentals of effective crisis leadership. When it comes to Covid, we seem to be doing a poor job following them. Sure, current data is trending toward improved C19/variant conditions and lowered risks, but it’s hard to understand why few are wearing a mask.

In the U.S. today, tens of thousands are still hospitalized with Covid. More than 60,000 new infections are reported across the country daily and, as most authorities are quick to note, that number is a gross underestimate of how many of us actually have the virus. Most dramatically, about 400 victims are still dying here every day.

Given improving trends, I can appreciate why people are wearing masks less, going without outdoors, or in small gatherings with close, vaccinated friends. But, why are so many so quick to stop wearing masks at all? Easing up doesn’t mean stopping. Even if we are nearing the finish line, as we all hope, the race is still on. Now is not the time to chuck all caution.

Perhaps an evolution to “Masking 2.0,” abiding with precaution under obvious circumstances, could be a symbol of embracing the current new-normal, and remaining vigilant for what may lie ahead. Mask in crowded, higher-risk settings (airports, movie theaters, concerts, sports spectating). Mask when it’s easy (shopping, waiting rooms, airplanes). Mask when you’re concerned about the health of those around you. Accept that having all shots doesn’t equal invulnerability. Think resilience over annoyance. Remember that your mask can still protect you, someone you love, a colleague, an external stakeholder, or someone you don’t even know.

Take pride in following the code of exceptional crisis leaders: Do what you can within your power, even selectively, to reduce, delay or stop the Covid crisis. Keep up today’s lesser effort so that, together, we can all come out stronger.

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