Walking along one of the busiest shopping streets in Oxford today I must have passed or seen around 200 people. According to the published statistics at least one of those was a spreader of coronavirus.

I did a quick count of the number of people wearing masks. Answer: around 10.

I also saw the newspaper headlines at the shop selling newspapers. Almost in unison, the headlines were screaming at us: FEAR OF SECOND PEAK!

Hypothesis 1: most people have not seen those headlines. Easily dismissed in a city like Oxford. We are impulsive newspaper readers.

Hypothesis 2: most people still do not understand how masks reduce the viral load that a spreader can communicate to others. And it can reduce the load you experience if you happen to be within droplet distance of a spreader. Could this be true in Oxford? Surely not! We are not so stupid as to misunderstand the science.

That leaves Hypothesis 3: we are not serious.

Consider this message I received today from the Director of Voices from Oxford (pictured):  “Whether we are brave or not we are all afraid of that small virus. I think we need to have wisdom about how to survive these difficult times.”

That wisdom includes taking mask-wearing as seriously as we take seatbelts. Ignoring either can kill.

The message ends “I am grateful to my friends and family who helped me enormously and especially the girl who redecorated this mirror and made masks that match my dresses.”

We are lucky to have friends and family who care for us. Please don’t risk being the spreader (you may not know you are!) who breathes droplets out wherever you go. Mask-up instead.

And please protect yourself. Sure, masks cannot exclude all droplets from passing. But they sure do reduce the load you may receive. That can be the difference between life and death.

You can’t see those droplets. But if the statistics are correct, there were droplets everywhere in that Oxford shopping street this morning.

OXFORD: Let’s start BEING SERIOUS. Mask-up, just as seriously as you belt-up.