America: Where Face Masks Are Not Just a Health Precaution
Updated: Jul 24
I realize now just how much America politicizes everything. America has managed to take something as simple as a common-sense health precaution during a global pandemic and turn it into not only a huge issue, but a political one at that. America defines itself as the land of the free, and it seems that some Americans take it literally. Americans are proud of our rights to freedom of religion, free speech, and the right to bear arms, for instance. But some Americans take it too far.
Although we have these rights, when it goes against everything, people find a way to make it about themselves, rather than the common good. Wearing a mask around other people is a kind and respectful thing to do to protect everyone from the virus. And yet, somehow that is no longer at the forefront of the discussion.
During the pandemic of COVID-19 people around the world showed their support for healthcare workers who have had many sleepless nights and put their lives at risk to help save other people's lives. They are true heroes. If Americans can acknowledge that, then why can’t we respect them enough to wear a mask? As Amy Arlund, a COVID-19 nurse from California put it, “please tell me my life is worth a LITTLE of your discomfort?” (1).
Many politically conservative people or right-wing extremists have their own theories related to the “pandemic” and have referred to masks as muzzles, which they are not, in case you need that clarification. People refuse to wear masks because they complain they “can’t breath,” and because they have the freedom to choose not to, even though it is in their own and other people's best interest to do so (2).
Chelsea Clinton unsarcastically tweeted “I really wish @realDonaldTrump had decided to sell #Trump2020 masks. Think of all the lives that could have been saved” (3). I believe this to be the sad truth. All that was required of Trump, initially, was to put on a mask and say it was because the public health experts recommended it. But instead, Trump decided not to take national action against COVID-19 and left public health management up to the individual States, proceeded not to wear a mask, and made insane statements such as, “if we stop testing, we’ll have less cases" (4).
Trump supporters are followers, and they will do and say as Trump says and does because they are misinformed and don’t realize it (5). His supporters watch as he takes COVID-19 lightly and so they decided it is their “right” to not wear a mask either, because why put yourself through mild discomfort to save lives?
So here we are, five months into the worldwide pandemic, and President Trump finally wears a mask. This should not be news, but it is (6). Five months after quarantine we should be celebrating him taking off his mask, not the other way around.
Thanks to quickly developing research we now know that it is important for everyone to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When it became apparent that COVID-19 was a worldwide issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) released information on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus. Physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a mask are the most effective things you can do (7,8). This has not changed and it will remain true.
So why have I only now just started seeing posts saying, “if everyone wears a mask, COVID will be gone in 2 months!” Okay great... But where was this mentality five months ago when the global pandemic started? It has persisted throughout the summer and the US has seen the highest numbers of cases worldwide (9). Only after it “hasn’t gone away yet” and people fear another holiday being canceled, or miss sports, America decides masks are necessary.
After millions of Americans and countless others have been affected and lost their lives to COVID-19, how is it an acceptable excuse that wearing a mask is imposing on your individual freedom? It’s really not that big of a deal to wear a small piece of fabric over your face.
It started out as the flu and quickly evolved into a mystery virus that seems to attack every part of the body, from our lungs to our brains, and we don’t know what kind of lasting damage it causes. Clearly, if there was a medicine that could reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, you’d take it right? So why aren’t people wearing masks? Experts say that wearing a mask can reduce the risk by 65% (10). It helps yourself and the people around you stay healthy and safe. So wear one. Please, just do it.