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Lebanon is open for business – finally. We have all heard the protocols: wear a mask and keep social distance. Yet, COVID-19 continues to spread across Pennsylvania and our community. WHY?

In an attempt to keep Lebanon open, Forward Together Lebanon, a group of leaders dedicated to the economic recovery of Lebanon County, went on the road to discover WHY.

Read More: Lebanon community leaders collaborate and prepare to move forward together

First up, was a neighbor. His age makes him both wise and a high risk for contracting the disease. While we wore a mask, he did not. WHY? His response, “I just don’t do that. The message changes all the time, who am I to trust?”

It is important to note, that this may be true as messages have been confusing over the past few months Recently, our medical experts have united and all agreed that the spread is through the droplets that spew forth when we talk, sing, argue, yell, scream – you get the idea. So as we spoke with the neighbor—at the 6′ social distance—droplets spewing—we hoped they dropped to the ground before it hit our mask. Bottom line, our mask protected him, his lack of mask was probably about to play havoc with our immune system should the droplets somehow get through the mask, or migrate to the eye or a random touch of the face.

We forged on. Next stop was a business. It was a small business with people inside standing on the appropriate 6’ apart markings on the floor. In fact, almost all the marks had someone standing. A majority of the patrons had masks, some did not. The owner at the cash register wore a mask. WHY? His reasoning when asked, “I need to keep my business open. It is my livelihood.”

We then focused on the woman in front of us. She was wearing a mask. WHY? It took a few seconds, her brows furrowed for as much as we could see from half her face. “Well, my mother lives with us and she has health issues, and my children are preparing for the start of school. I am doing it for them—to keep them safe and healthy.”

WHY is it important to wear a mask inside? It is interesting to note that outside, humans don’t share much air. Floating droplets dissipate, and we are all pretty safe. Inside, with minimal air movement, is another story. We share a lot of air, so the potential is there to receive multiple hits from these virus-laden droplets spewing forth.

As we returned to our meeting room, we realized what was missing when we asked, “WHY we should wear a mask?” The missing element: The WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)? For the local business, he needed to stay in business for his livelihood. His family depends on him, his customers depend on him, his employees depend on him. For the woman, she was concerned for the health of her family. Both were concerned for others.

As we examine what has happened to lead us this far, all we can do is ask WHY? We have seen our neighbors and business feel the impact caused by COVID. Many have received rent assistance, eviction protection, food, PPE and educational tools for children. WHY would you not want to help the community where you live, work, learn, play? Like the two people in the business, WHY would you not wear a mask?

“In This Together” was the mantra heard around the world. Local, national, and social media touted the cry. WHY? We are in this together and together we shall conquer this pandemic.

In Lebanon, we have conquered adversity before—a major tornado, flooding, fires, and more, have brought us together. In This Together is not just a slogan, it is our way of life, a dedication to friends, family and the community as a whole. In our Lebanon County, you will always find neighbor helping neighbor.

Time is important too. WHY? We do not have a crystal ball. No one knows what the next few months — or even years — might bring as COVID-19 likely will go beyond 2020. We see businesses and families struggling. To keep Lebanon open, wearing a mask will go a long way.

Your Forward Together Lebanon Leadership would like everyone to become Masked Crusaders. Please join our crusade to Mask Up Lebanon Campaign. Visit our Facebook page to start!

So we ask you, “Please wear a mask?” WHY? Because we are a resilient community. A community that is all about neighbor helping neighbor.

The Leadership Team of Forward Together Lebanon

Susan Eberly
Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation

Karen Groh
Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce

Robert Dowd
Lebanon County Department of Emergency Services

Brooke Smith
United Way of Lebanon County

Jennifer Easter
WellSpan Health

Julia Vicente
ELCO School District Superintendent

Geoffrey M. Roche
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

Barbara Kauffman
Kauffman Creative Services Inc.

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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