On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 had reached around the world and had been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Two days later, the United States declared a state of emergency, and schools were shut down across the nation in the name of safety. This was the official start of quarantine, which was meant to last only a couple of weeks. However, the pandemic has gone on for months, and the number of COVID-19 cases is only increasing. People have resorted to social distancing and wearing masks as safety methods, which only work if enforced well. From March to July, President Donald Trump refused to wear a mask in front of the media, which had a direct influence on his supporters. Some people don’t believe in masks, and some even argue that masks “take away their freedom.” However, not wearing a mask can only do harm, as the coronavirus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets. Another major factor of why the disease spreads so quickly is that people may be asymptomatic. These people are clueless that they are putting others at risk, especially if they aren’t wearing masks. There aren’t many other options that are as cheap and as readily available, and it is definitely better to wear a mask than to wear nothing.
Although it may be uncomfortable or not align with one’s political views, masks should be kept on to stop the spread of the coronavirus; people may unknowingly be spreading the disease, and there aren’t many alternative options yet.
President Trump refused to wear a mask for several months, giving his supporters a reason to follow. The absence of masks, especially at Trump’s rallies, created a surge in cases. At Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma- attended by about 6,000 people- few people wore masks. The result was a record number of cases in Tulsa County. Furthermore, people have claimed that wearing masks is a violation of their constitutional rights. Although this is not a large portion of Americans, it can still lengthen the duration of the pandemic. Wearing masks should be viewed as no more than a scientific precaution, yet it has become a political debate. Refusing to wear a mask may be satisfactory to someone’s beliefs, but it does not help with reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The Hidden Dangers
Everyone should wear masks in public due to the risks of being asymptomatic or presymptomatic. Studies show that symptoms of the virus may take anywhere from 2-14 days to appear. This is especially dangerous because it can cause a chain of unintended cases, as one presymptomatic person can spread the disease before they realize they have it, then those infected by the original person infect more people, and so on. This is worse for asymptomatic people, as they may never know that they are infected unless they get tested. They may not think the virus is worth all its trouble, as they aren’t affected directly by its symptoms. However, those with previously-existing respiratory diseases are highly at risk, which may include many people’s friends or family. Effective methods to reduce the chances of infecting others include wearing a mask in public and social distancing. By wearing a mask, droplets cannot travel through the air to infect other people, and the virus ideally would not spread. Experts even say that 80% of the population wearing a mask would do more to reduce the spread of the coronavirus than a strict lockdown.
A vaccine for COVID-19 has not been developed yet, and may not be developed for another several months. Therefore, there are not many safe alternatives to wearing a mask and social distancing. Masks are relatively inexpensive and social distancing is free, so why not utilize these? Face shields are an alternative to masks, but they are neither as cheap nor as effective. At the very least, until a vaccine is developed, masks should be worn in public areas. Now that the pandemic has been going on for several months, people are tired of the restrictions of lockdown. They have every right to feel this way, but should at least be urged to wear masks in densely-populated areas when they want to escape their home. Masks are one of the very few ways people can protect themselves as well as those around them.
During the many months of the coronavirus in America, there have been over 5.3 million confirmed cases, as well as over 168,000 deaths. The pandemic is still going strong and is not slowing down. If the United States hopes to slow the virus down, masks would be an essential tool to do so. Masks should not be viewed in a political manner or as a violation of one’s rights, but instead as a safety precaution which could save lives. Masks are cheap and effective, and one of the few current options we have. The coronavirus may be lasting longer than most people expected, but this extension can definitely be cut down through the right safety precautions.