Wear Your Damn Mask: Why Wearing a Face Covering is the LEAST You Can Do During a Pandemic
By Melissa Lipari
I get it. Wearing a mask is kind of annoying. As someone who loves makeup, it’s always a bit frustrating when I take my mask off after being outside and see a smear of foundation on my white cloth face covering. They are also difficult to breathe with at times, I find myself struggling to have longer conversations with people because the mask gets in the way. But, do you know what’s probably more inconvenient than makeup stains and struggling to breathe from a little bit of cloth? Being hooked up to a ventilator and fighting for your life in a hospital.
Pre-pandemic, wearing a mask wasn’t a part of our daily ensemble. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a surgical mask before Coronavirus. I never really thought about them as something that people needed to wear in public, they were reserved for medical professionals in my mind.
Fast forward to almost the sixth month of COVID-19 restrictions, my mask has become an extension of myself. I keep a mask in my purse, hanging behind my bedroom door, basically in every place that I would need to easily access a mask before heading out in public. I think I’m so adamant about having a mask everywhere I go, because they’re truly the simplest thing that you can do to help protect others. Which is the key fact that a lot of people who are against masks are missing. According to the CDC, “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.” Read that quote again. It is meant to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Wearing a mask is not about your personal beliefs. If you feel it is like a “muzzle” or that COVID-19 is not something that you’re going to catch because you’re healthy or have been through worse - as many Boomers are saying - think about someone other than yourself for a moment. If wearing a face covering (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mask - there are plenty of other CDC approved face coverings that are more breathable and comfortable if that is your biggest issue with all of this) is the link between life and death for someone who is asymptomatic and a person who is elderly, immune compromised, or completely healthy - I would hope many would choose the slight inconvenience that they are putting themselves in for the greater good of others.
Unfortunately, many people already know this and are still outraged with the idea of having to cover their mouth and nose in public. Even our president has made a mockery of face masks for MONTHS, particularly when our country was in the worst of its stages for COVID-19. So, let’s talk about the deeper reason as to why wearing a mask is the least you can do for people.
If you’re tired of this pandemic and want it all to go away, wearing a mask is a huge answer to your prayers. UCSF News writes, “A recent study published in Health Affairs, for example, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It found that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate, which became more apparent over time. The first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage-points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percentage-points.” Now, .9% might not sound like a lot, but this was only in the first five days of mandates. Picture where we are now, six months deep into regulations in many states. We could be making leaps and bounds if everyone wore a mask.
To illustrate a country that has received success from quarantine and mask mandates, let’s chat about New Zealand and the work of their fantastic Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. In reading an article from NPR, I learned that New Zealand entered quarantine after just 6 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in March. They also blocked travel to and from the country on March 19th. Their Prime Minister never looked at the virus as a huge “hoax” that waged war on the population. She put in place the necessary steps to protect her citizens and drove home the point that this was all to be done for the safety of others, from the very beginning. By June, the entire country was declared virus-free. Jacinda Ardern never made fun of any of the regulations, she wore her mask without complaints. Not to mention, she had 18 million masks in reserve during the height of their pandemic for a country that only has a population of 5 million.
If everyone in the U.S. abided by the regulations, like wearing a face covering, it could have been very possible for us to slow down the curve of COVID faster than we are doing right now. So, for those of you who are complaining that COVID-19 ruined your summer - think about how many times you went out without a mask before it was a mandate in your state. It is truly the simplest way for all of us to do our part. Not to mention, scientific studies have proven that it actually works, it’s not some mumbo-jumbo that was made up to inconvenience or control us.
I could truly go on and on about the importance of face masks, but frankly the proof is in the pudding. Countries that have had strict mandates are recovering after COVID-19 and the U.S. is still being plagued by death. Now, there are more tools than face masks that are integral to stopping the spread of the virus. Social distancing, hand-washing, staying home when applicable, and a plethora of other steps, need to be taken in conjunction with mask-wearing - but at the end of the day, wearing a mask is the easiest thing that you can do in public. So, wear a damn mask. It’s about more than just the individual, it is about the collective. No one is invincible against Coronavirus. It’s okay if you don’t care about your health, but it’s not okay to put others at risk if they care about theirs. So, do you really think it’s just a piece of cloth?
For more information on COVID-19 and face coverings, visit the cdc.gov. Stay safe and healthy.