Mask Hysteria: The Compliant Vs. The Defiant

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Art by Mallory Hobson

Commentary:

To mask or not to mask? That is the question so many Americans want to know the answer to. Why is the use of face masks by the general public for limiting the spread of COVID-19 so controversial, yet highly recommended?

As states reopen from quarantine, many are requiring people to wear face coverings in most public spaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend cloth masks for the general public.

Half of all U.S. currently has statewide mask mandates in place. However, in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order banning cities from enforcing mask mandates.

In response, Savannah’s democratic mayor, Van Johnson, tweeted, “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us.”

According to the CDC, an increasing amount of evidence proves cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

Despite CDC’s recommendation, some people say they’re exempt from mandates requiring facial coverings in public. Because of their medical condition, it is not safe for them to wear a mask. Thanks to privacy laws like HIPAA, the “anti-maskers” say they’re not required to disclose their secret medical condition.

The mask debate has turned into a significant political issue where most democrats are for masks and republicans generally are against them. Anti-maskers with pre-existing conditions like asthma have deemed wearing a mask dangerous for their breathing even though masks are still recommended.

According to the CDC, people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. The coronavirus may affect the, throat, lungs, cause an asthma attack and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

Others claim that the Americans With Disabilities Act protects them from disclosing their private “medical condition.” Could this just be a way to avoid minor inconvenience? Perhaps.

Masks can come with uncomfortable side effects, but are still necessary

Wearing a mask can be annoying, uncomfortable and the experience is unbearable for some. Many fail to properly cover their face, only covering their mouth or by cutting holes in their masks to better breathe or drink. This defeats the mask’s purpose to prevent airborne spread of the virus.

There have been reports of medical professionals suffering severe skin damage after wearing masks for long periods. Wearing a mask for an excess amount of time causes sweat and friction to damage the skin. This creates an opportunity for infection.

If you have a condition that makes mask-wearing difficult, there are ways to deal

The solution isn’t doing away with masks altogether but to wear one that is better suited for the individual.

For example, for people with asthma or COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), the CDC recommends staying home as much as possible and picking times when it’s least hot and humid to go out. They also advise choosing face-coverings that are comfortable, like a cloth mask made with moisture-wicking and breathable fabric.

Other reasons people refuse to wear masks include racial profiling to the political stance that the government should not dictate what citizens choose to wear. I spoke to a retired Paulding County School District (PCSD) educator, Teresa Britton, about the need for masks and mandates in our community. She currently works at an elementary school in Paulding County.

“I just don’t think they protect you that much,” said retired PCSD educator Britton. “I think it’s a really big scare tactic used to scare people. I don’t have to go into the store that demands it. As far as them demanding you wear it at all times, no. That’s completely infringing on your personal rights and your beliefs.”

Private businesses like Target, Walmart and CVS have policies in place stating that you must be six feet apart and masks are required to be in the store. It is also legal for businesses to enforce those policies and ask a person to leave if they refuse to abide by these set rules.

Wearing a mask is about protecting others, not only yourself. Anti-maskers are not only putting themselves in danger, but also people like essential workers who have to be in public during the pandemic. Their non-belief in science and healthcare professionals is both alarming and irresponsible.

Wearing a mask should be mandatory everywhere as well as social distancing to ensure we get rid of this virus as quickly as possible. It shows good citizenship by making a commitment to keeping fellow Americans safe. Wear a mask!