We teach our children to use Kleenex and wash their hands after toileting. We cover our sneezes or cough into our elbows. We don't pee in the alley or spit on sidewalks. These are courtesies that we learn to protect ourselves and others from germs we might carry.

We are being told to add use of face masks in public to that list of courtesies that we follow to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. To not wear face masks puts the health of ourselves and others in our community at risk.

We are enjoying the benefits of transitioning into Phase 4 of COVID compliance. The metro has opened. Apollo has opened. Our main street boutiques have opened. Our restaurants and bars have limited indoor seating. Some churches now have indoor worship. A sense of freedom is in the air and some people stopped wearing face masks.

Just as we insist that our kids use Kleenex even though their sleeves are handier, and that they wash hands with soap even though it takes longer, we need to stop with the excuses and follow good hygiene. Wear the face mask.

Businesses and their employees have taken an awful hit over the last four months to get us to Phase 4. We can't blow it now. Looking at the current surge in COVID-19 around the country is a sobering reminder of what happens when we forget that we are in the midst of a deadly pandemic and will be until we are all vaccinated successfully against it. 

So please wear your face mask... in our stores... in our churches... in all enclosed and crowded public spaces. It's good hygiene and necessary to keep us from our own virus surge.  

Mary Ann Smith, Princeton.

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