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Wear your face masks when you are in public

Tourism is beginning to make a bit of a comeback in Natchez.

The Natchez Visitor Center is reopened and the Natchez Pilgrimage Tours is operating some historic and museum house tours again.

Hotel parking lots have cars with out-of-state license plates parked in them.

The casino has visitors during operating hours. The curfew has been lifted in Adams County and most businesses are back in operation.

COVID-19 numbers, however, are still increasing not only in the state of Mississippi but also in Adams County and in many areas of the nation.

At this point, it is not possible to tell whether the local numbers are increasing because of testing in nursing homes, which have born the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, or if the increase in numbers are a result of relaxed guidelines and businesses reopening.

One thing is for sure, COVID-19 is not gone just because we are reopening businesses and coming out of self-isolation routines.

As we go about getting back into our new normal routines, however, it is important to realize the COVID-19 dangers are still out there.

It is easy to forget that, and I have been as guilty as anyone, having forgotten to take my mask with me on a couple of occasions when I had to be in public.

Most of the time, however, I do have my mask with me and I wear it, particularly when I am in close confines indoors with strangers such as during trips to the grocery store.

Medical experts say wearing masks is one of the most effective things people can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Masks, many people still do not understand, are worn not to protect the wearer. Masks are worn to protect others from the wearer.

Many people can have COVID-19 and not realize it, all the while going about their daily routine spreading the disease to others. Wearing a mask helps minimize the potential for an unaware carrier to spread the disease.

While some people are able to tolerate the disease with few if any symptoms or problems from it, others such as elderly people and people with underlying conditions, are not so lucky.

They could die from the disease if they contract it or at the least spend time in the hospital with a lengthy and costly fight to overcome it.

That’s why it is important for us to wear our masks and to maintain social distances from others when we are out in public whether at a restaurant, shopping at the grocery store or enjoying time at the casino.

By us practicing social distancing and mask wearing, we are demonstrating to others, including tourists and visitors who are returning to our community, that we care about them and that we are taking proper measures to protect them and others from the spread of COVID-19.

The more we demonstrate that, the healthier our community will be and the more tourists will be comfortable returning to our community.

Our community depends heavily on the confidence visitors place in our community being a good host.

Let’s not let them down because we depend on their business and the good word of mouth they will spread to others that Natchez is a great place to visit and cares about its visitors.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or at scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.