Since the beginning of the pandemic, wearing a mask has been the easiest way to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus. Despite this solution’s simplicity, the virus has still not been contained because many people have become more carefree and are not wearing masks when necessary or are outright refusing to.
Those who refuse have a higher risk of being infected and transmitting the virus without their knowledge. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that about 40 percent of coronavirus infections do not produce any symptoms, making its hosts asymptomatic carriers. Most symptoms do not appear until at least two weeks after getting the virus. This issue raises concerns about the underlying risk of people who refuse to wear masks, thus unknowingly contributing to the spread. Lack of mask wearing varies greatly from person to person. Some find it too hot or too hard to breathe. Others wear one all day at work and need a break. According to the Washington Post, out of the quarter of the total population who resist wearing masks, a significant number cite their primary reason as personal freedom.
These groups have politicized the wearing of masks by claiming it’s an impending threat to their individual liberty. Mask wearing should not be seen as a way of oppression, but as an act of human decency.
Despite masks posing no true medical risks, people are continuing to argue over the prospect of mandating masks. This can no longer be considered as expressing your individuality or advocating for your freedom because it negatively affects the wellbeing of other people. This concept of individual freedom is harmful when its individuality is prioritized over the mass population during times like these. Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam, explained wearing a mask is a matter of public health and it is greatly suggested to wear one.
“This is a matter of public health,” Northam said. “I’m not looking for people to get in trouble by not wearing a mask, but I am looking for people to please do the right thing. I am asking people to respect one another.”
Other people argue that because masks can’t fully protect them against Covid-19, they’re not worth the hassle. While a 100% risk reduction is unrealistic, researchers have evidence indicating that if viral particles make it through a person’s mask, only a small percentage would enter their body. Breathing in a smaller amount of virus particles significantly decreases the chances of infection. If you refuse to wear a mask, the significant amount of virus particles you may inhale can lead to a serious disease, or potentially death. Evidently, wearing a mask greatly increases the chances of surviving through this pandemic. It would be absurd to pass up a chance to protect yourself during this dangerous time by being anti-mask.
“It’s been a real deficiency in the messaging about masking to say that it only protects the other,” Charles Haas, an environmental engineer and expert in risk assessment at Drexel University, said. “From the get go, that never made sense scientifically.”
Wearing a mask not only protects others, but can also lower the severity of an infection. Although masks are uncomfortable, they are an integral practice to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If the inconsistency and refusal surrounding masks continues, the spread will continue. This pandemic has stretched on for approximately six months, and with lack of proper mask wearing there is no end in sight. If you want this current state of living to end, wear a mask.