None of us at The Times are health care experts.

Among us, we have approximately zero hours of medical training. We aren’t virologists. We’re not physicians. We are wholly unqualified to offer medical advice.

Which is why, when deciding our best practices during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we take our cues from those with expertise in the field. We follow the guidance offered by those whose job it’s been to research the virus that’s upended our lives. We do it to keep not only ourselves safe, but our families, our friends, our neighbors, even strangers with whom we come into close contact.

We’ve seen rumblings online, particularly social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, scoffing at medical experts’ advice. In particular, some people seem to take umbrage with recommendations of wearing masks in public.

We get it. Masks can be uncomfortable, and none of us have worn them in public often enough for them to not seem at least a little socially strange. But the Centers for Disease Control – the taxpayer-funded organization that’s sole job is to help guide the country through a crisis like the one we’re facing – recommends wearing masks while in public, especially in locations where social distancing, which they also recommend, isn’t easy or possible. Masks catch the droplets of saliva the wearer spreads while talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing. According to the CDC, viruses like COVID-19 live in these droplets. When they spread, so to does the virus.

As businesses, parks, and other aspects of society slowly reopen, it’s important for us to remember why they closed down in the first place: To slow the spread of a highly communicable, potentially deadly virus, a virus that has no cure and will live among us until one is manufactured. It’s a virus that continues to spread in our community, just as it has in every other community in the world. And because we will have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, we here at The Times think we should take whatever precautions we can to keep the people of our little corner of Mississippi healthy.

If that means wearing a mask in public, we’ll wear a mask.

If that means more rigorous cleaning of our surroundings, we’ll do it.

If that means limiting our contact with others as much as possible, we’ll do our best to keep to ourselves.

We will do what it takes to survive this thing and to help our friends and neighbors survive too. And although we’re not medical experts, we’re certain the first step to survival is listening to those who are.

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