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In the tri-state area, we pride ourselves on our community spirit. Neighbors help each other through difficult times. Schools, churches and clubs rally around when a member is in need. Total strangers show up to sandbag during flooding and clean up following storms. When a derecho cut a devastating swath through Iowa communities south of here, area residents offered support in multiple ways.

This time, it’s not a fire or a flood or a tornado. But we are facing a catastrophic event. And there’s something every single person can do to help. It’s not even difficult.

Just wear a mask.

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Avoid large gatherings.

Keep your distance.

No doubt everyone has heard this message before. But it’s become extremely obvious that not everyone is complying. If that was happening, the local COVID-19 situation would not be getting steadily worse.

But it is.

• Six long-term-care facilities in Dubuque County are dealing with outbreaks — the most of any of Iowa’s 99 counties.

• Iowa topped 5,000 new, confirmed cases in a day for the first time on Friday.

• The State of Wisconsin had to recalibrate its COVID-19 severity scale and create a “critically high” category to describe the spread of the virus in much of the state. Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Crawford counties all fall into the critically high category.

  • On Friday, the state of Wisconsin set a record for the most new cases in a single day — 7,777, breaking the old record, set Thursday.
  • Illinois set a record Friday for the fourth straight day, shattering the Thursday record by surging to 15,415. Likewise, Jo Daviess County’s numbers have been climbing consistently in recent weeks.
  • Jones County’s 14-day test positivity rate is approaching 50%.

In September, Dubuque County supervisors voted against a mask mandate, citing the concerns of nearly all the small-town mayors throughout the county. On Thursday, they took the issue up again. This time, supervisors passed a revised mandate unanimously. Many of those same mayors had come to realize this was a necessary step.

When the supervisors voted down the mandate on Sept. 8, there were about 2,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, along with

36 related deaths. The county’s 14-day positivity rate stood at 12.8%, and 11 Dubuque County residents with COVID-19 were hospitalized.

As of Friday, there were more than 7,500 cases and 77 related deaths. The 14-day positivity rate had climbed to nearly 25%, and the number of county residents hospitalized with the coronavirus had more than quadrupled.

The number of “active” cases in Dubuque County on Sept. 8 was 480. As of Friday, the number stood at 2,849, more than five times higher.

Local medical leaders called a press conference to beg for the public’s help as their facilities face being overwhelmed by cases from Dubuque County and beyond. Statewide health care leaders made a similar plea.

Think about that for a minute. If this was any other scenario, and health care workers in our communities were begging us for help, would we help them? Of course, we would. Without a doubt.

That is who we are. We help our communities.

Yet, over these past weeks and months, not everyone has joined in this most important community effort. Gov. Kim Reynolds stopped short of a mask mandate or shelter-in-place order, determined that Iowans would “do the right thing.” Clearly, that hasn’t been the case.

Tri-state residents have an opportunity to help those who need it most right now. And the thing is, no one knows whose loved one will be next. Do the right thing. Help our tri-state communities. Wear a mask.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald’s Editorial Board.