You may have heard the phrase “random acts of kindness.” In fact, many of us encourage those we mentor including our own children to follow this principle. During a recent Harbin Clinic Board of Managers meeting, Dr. Jeffrey Peller, Harbin Clinic vice chair and rheumatology physician, made the comment that wearing a mask is an act of kindness. I would add that it is an intentional act of kindness; a choice we make to support the health and wellbeing of others.

Because SARS Cov 2, the virus that causes COVID 19, is spread through respiratory droplets (i.e. cough, sneeze, breathing, etc…), we must take precautions to reduce the spread. This particular strain of coronavirus is moderately contagious meaning that an individual with the infection will spread it to somewhere between two and five other individuals who will in turn spread it to a similar number of individuals. Wearing a mask helps to contain a portion of the respiratory droplets expressed by an infected individual thereby reducing the number of others who might otherwise contract the illness. Furthermore, we have learned that infected individuals are contagious one to two days before they become symptomatic. This makes social distancing and wearing masks critically important. We cannot afford to wait on the appearance of symptoms in order to take appropriate precautions.

The technical term used to describe this infection control measure is Universal Source Control. I simply call it an Intentional Act of Kindness. Please join me and all of us at the Harbin Clinic as we seek to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. Where it is possible to practice social distancing, let us do so. When it is not practical to do so, let us don a mask in an intentional act of kindness.

Dr. Charles Edward McBride is the chief medical officer at Harbin Clinic.

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