Updated: Aug 18
Take Personal Responsibility: Wear A Mask
By Lily Erb, Content Writer
Across the country, Americans are adjusting to doing daily tasks while wearing a face covering. People are advised to wear masks while shopping, working, socializing, or performing any task that is not socially distanced. The majority of states, including New York, California, and Texas, require face coverings when out in public. Many schools and universities which are choosing to reopen are enforcing strict mask rules. Even the happiest place on Earth, Walt Disney World, requires guests and employees to wear a mask while enjoying their visit.
It is extremely important that all Americans, symptomatic or not, wear masks while out in public. The purpose of a cloth mask is to stop respiratory droplets from traveling far due to breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Much like coughing or sneezing into your elbow, a cloth mask is designed to keep the germs you exhale to yourself. For this reason, cloth masks are highly effective when worn by somebody who is sick and presents a risk of giving the virus to somebody else. Cloth masks are also effective in blocking others’ respiratory droplets from entering your system. In an interaction between a sick and healthy person, the risk of transmission is lowest when both parties are wearing masks.
Image courtesy of East Alabama Medical Center.
According to the University of California San Diego, two real life cases presented evidence that wearing a mask can greatly reduce transmission in high-risk settings. A man who flew from China to Toronto tested positive for COVID-19 after his flight. He wore a mask during his flight, and the 25 people who sat closest to him on the plane all tested negative. Another case presents two hair stylists in Missouri who saw 140 clients while sick. The hair stylists wore masks, and none of their clients tested positive for COVID-19. According to People, CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield cites face coverings as one of the strongest weapons against COVID-19, and reports that if everybody wore a mask for 4-6 weeks, “we could drive this epidemic to the ground.”
Image courtesy of the CDC.
Some people are confused by the changing policy regarding masks. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was only recommended that people showing symptoms of COVID-19 should wear masks. Since then, mask guidelines have changed, and it is now recommended for every person in a public setting, regardless of health, to wear a mask. At the beginning of the pandemic, scientists understood less about infection, and it was thought that only sick people could transmit the virus. Now, knowing that people can be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and still spread the virus, mask policies have changed. There was also a concern at the beginning of the pandemic that ordering all American citizens to wear masks would lead to a shortage of medical grade supplies for health care workers. ”We should have told people to wear cloth masks right off the bat,” said infectious disease specialist Peter Chin Hong, MD.
Despite hard scientific evidence that masks greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, some Americans still refuse to wear them. Unless suffering from a serious medical condition, there is no reason an adult should not be able to effectively wear a mask. According to the CDC, the only people who should not wear a mask are children under 2 years old and unconscious adults. Masks do not make it harder to breathe, and they do not increase the levels of CO2 in a person’s bloodstream. The CDC recognizes certain exceptions for situations where wearing a mask is unrealistic, such as swimming or running. In these situations, the CDC recommends conducting these activities outdoors and away from people.
Wearing a mask protects not only you and your family, but every other person around you. Wearing a mask means you respect and value the lives of your fellow citizens and essential workers. By wearing a mask, you’re being socially responsible and doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Cover image courtesy of Disney Parks/Matt Stroshane
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