Exploring the Mask Controversy
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
What are the perspectives of those who wear masks and those who refuse to comply with mask mandates?
For many people, wearing a face mask in public to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus seems like a no-brainer. As it turns out, requiring people to wear masks is not as simple as it might seem. Despite the CDC guidelines and research justifying mask wearing, the effectiveness of masks has been questioned. Moreover, some claim this requirement to be a violation of personal liberties. These contrasting perspectives have resulted in a prominent political conflict further dividing our nation.
What are the reasons for the resistance to mask wearing?
The reasons for peoples’ resistance to mask wearing vary from religious beliefs to believing that masks are ineffective. Many psychologists have noted that this pandemic has made people feel completely powerless, causing some to rebel and refuse to wear masks in order to feel more “in control.” Here are four primary reasons why some individuals have refused to comply with mask mandates:
Skepticism of Effectiveness
Many anti-maskers are simply skeptical of the effectiveness of face coverings. Some say that if someone who wears masks can still get Covid-19 then why does it matter if they wear a mask or not? The idea that face masks are ineffective against Covid-19 has been perpetuated by the president’s own skepticism that he has openly expressed on a number of occasions. Furthermore, the importance of wearing a mask has been undermined by the absence of a mask in all the president’s public appearances until very recently. In April earlier this year, Trump said “the CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary. You don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
Even now, six months after this initial statement was made, there are still many Americans choosing not to comply with mask mandates. A Trump supporter, interviewed by a BBC spokesperson, said that masks provide a "false sense of security" and "I don't think a mask protects you in any way."
CREDIT JULIO CORTEZ
Trump exhibits the mask in his pocket during the first presidential debate in response to a question regarding his beliefs on masks.
Another reason why some people refuse to follow safety protocols like mask wearing is because they receive contradictory information. For some individuals, the CDC guidelines have had very limited influence on their behavior considering that their own president has made many statements contradicting the CDC’s emphasis on mask wearing. One of these statements include: “Maybe they’re great, and maybe they’re just good. Maybe they’re not so good” (August 13th).
After being hospitalized with COVID-19, the president said “Don’t be afraid of it,” which is just one of his many remarks that has downplayed the sense of urgency surrounding the threat of the virus. The statement directly contradicted his administration's statement advising Americans to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CREDIT ALEX BRANDON
Trump after being hospitalized with COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Furthermore, conspiracy theories have spread like wildfires through social media. These include theories that the pandemic is a hoax that has been created by the government. People have become increasingly distrustful of their government and skeptical of the information being released. This, coupled with unreliable news sources, has many people believing false information and unsure of what is true. Some people have stated that they believe masks to be “political scare tactics.” According to BBC News, another anti-masker has said in regard to the pandemic, "I don't fall for this. It's not what they say it is."
Some reasons for resistance to mask wearing are based on religious beliefs. Prior to a vote to mandate masks in public spaces, Palm Beach county commissioners gave residents an opportunity to voice their opinions. One resident claimed that “masks are literally killing people” and accused the commissioners of “disobeying the devil’s laws.” Another “anti-masker” testified that masks “throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door.”
Violation of Personal Liberty
A major reason for the refusal of mask wearing is the belief that mask mandates violate our freedom and constitutional rights. One individual that spoke to the Palm Beach commissioners described these mandates as “communistic dictatorship orders.”
CREDIT GETTY IMAGES
A Rally outside the Pennsylvania Capitol Building on May 15, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Why You Should Wear a Mask
One of the most compelling arguments for wearing a face mask comes from the head of the CDC: Robert Redfield. Redfield claims that face masks are “the most important, powerful health tool we have.” He then goes on to confirm that “we have clear scientific evidence that they work and they are our best defense [against the CoronaVirus].” Contrary to the many claims the president has made regarding the vaccine, Redfield states, “I might go so far as to say that face masks are more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than a vaccine.”
CREDIT ANDREW HARNIK
Director of the Center for Disease Control, Robert Redfield.
Opposed to vaccines, masks are a physical barrier between the airborne virus particles and the passageways into your body. Furthermore, unlike vaccines, masks are currently widely available. The vaccine is an unreliable protection against the virus. According to Redfield, there is always the possibility that the recipient of the vaccine may not have an immune response, and the vaccine will therefore not offer any sort of protection for that individual. Redfield also stated that contrary to many of the president's recent statements, the vaccine will not be available to the general public until “the late second quarter, third quarter of 2021.”
Why Does the Parker Community Feel it is Important to Wear a Mask?
“All the science tells you that mask wearing is important. It is a sign of respect that you care about the safety of others regardless of your own personal opinion. It says that you are trying to be mindful of the things happening around us.”
- Hana-Lei Ji, 12th grade
“Scientific studies have shown that wearing a mask can decrease the spread of the virus. We need to do it for ourselves and for others.”
- Ms. Rickards
“Even though I am young, and I know that I would be fine, I need to think of people like my parents. You need to put others before you, even though at times, it might be uncomfortable. Not to mention, masks are becoming a fashion statement. You can stay safe in style!”
- Isabella Russo, 9th grade
“On a scientific level, it protects people from spreading the virus. It’s not so much that it keeps you safe, but it keeps others safe, so it keeps everyone safe. It’s a gesture of solidarity. It is not because you want to do it, but in choosing to do so, you are saying that you are willing to do what’s best for the community.”
- Mr. Najita
“Most of the kids that are going to school have people at home who are high risk and it’s important to wear a mask in order to keep the school open”
- Ian Caldwell, 6th grade
“It’s important to protect those who don’t have a strong enough immune system to fight off COVID.”
- Acacia Blyth, 9th grade
“I believe the public health officials who say that masks are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Additionally, the people who don’t wear masks are childish and disrespectful to other people.”
- Mr. Pogreba
CREDIT KAYA LONG CREDIT ACACIA BLYTH
Parker School students on October 29, 2020