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Our View: Wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19

News-Star staff

The number of our Pottawatomie County neighbors who have died from COVID-19 is staggering.

At the time of this column, the county's death toll stood at 51.

As journalists, it's not uncommon for us to report on stories involving a death in our community, many of which we can't forget. Often, memories of grieving family members we've met and talked with while reporting a story are on our minds, even years later. We can't help but be impacted by their loss.

The magnitude of ongoing local COVID-19 deaths during this pandemic can be overwhelming. The deaths keep climbing and we don't always know the names and faces behind these numbers. We receive statistics from the Oklahoma State Department of Health reporting new deaths.

The daily number of deaths in the state fluctuates up and down. Tuesday's report had 30 deaths. The day before that was 14. And last week, two consecutive days had jaw-dropping numbers — Friday's report listed 47 state deaths; the day before that listed 55.

It's heart-wrenching to continue reading down the daily list by county. We can see whether the person who died was male or female and what age group they were in, but nothing more. And while Pottawatomie County's death toll stands at 51 to-date, we can't forget our neighbors in nearby Lincoln County and Seminole County. To date, Lincoln County has reported 41 coronavirus deaths and Seminole County has had 26.

At last check, the numbers for the state, nation and world are just as unimaginable and keep climbing:

Oklahoma: 3,388 deaths

United States: 426,052

Worldwide: 2,162,333

It's difficult to comprehend that more than 2.1 million people have died worldwide from this virus.

But there is hope. Rollout of the vaccines will take time, but will hopefully make a difference. Until then, helping stop the spread is critical and we must remain vigilant.

We all know the drill: Wash your hands often, practice social distancing and wear a mask to help stop the spread.

Whether you agree with the medical experts or not, wearing a mask is effective, not to mention the fact that the city of Shawnee still has a mask mandate in place for the safety of the community.

We encourage everyone to continue wearing masks and to practice important COVID-19 safety measures. Wearing a mask helps protect you, your family and all those around you.

With patience and compassion, we're going to get through this.