Mask Wearing and What to Wear

Sydney Leahy, Editor

What I once thought was so painfully obvious, appears to require an explanation. After seeing an alarming amount of strangers refusing to wear a mask in public, I decided to compile a list of reasons why it is your responsibility as a human being to wear a mask. 

Some people proclaim that it is their right to not wear a mask in public places. Many say that they don’t want to be told what to do. They’re afraid to acknowledge the severity of the situation and their response is denial. Some think it’s uncomfortable, or believe that it’s their body their choice (coincidently referencing a women’s right to get an abortion). The vast majority of non-mask wearers are confused because the media that they are consuming states that mask-wearing is a hoax (this viewpoint sadly popularized in part by President Trump).

Deciding to not wear a mask is no longer a right when not wearing a mask could infect everyone that they come in contact with. Wearing a mask is not a government conspiracy created to suppress free thought and liberty. The act of wearing a mask is a selfless one. The act of wearing a cloth mask mostly protects others from yourself more than it protects you from others. It is about protecting your family and every single person with who you come into contact. Masks have been proven by study after study to drastically reduce the spread of Covid. Many may argue that they don’t feel sick, but those same people may be asymptomatic. Over 30 states have passed laws requiring masks be worn in public places. It is literally illegal to not wear a mask in some states.

I’m willing to admit that there may be times when wearing a mask may not be possible or practical. Toddlers may not be able to keep their mask on, or may continuously pull it down. People with mental disabilities may have difficulties keeping their masks on. It is impractical to wear a mask while swimming, but you should wear one when getting out of the water. People who do labor outside in the sun (who are not around other people to potentially infect) may not be able to wear a mask because of the increased risk of overheating. Also, people who are exercising outside may not be able to wear a mask.

Now that you’ve been educated on why wearing a mask is necessary, let’s classify which masks are effective and which are not. Cloth masks that are two-ply, with a spot for reusable filters are an excellent choice. The reusable factor is both cost-efficient and better for the environment. If you can’t find a cloth mask, surgical masks are another option, though like N95s, they should be reserved for medical workers. Masks with valves should not be worn. They protect the wearer, but the valve allows the particles to escape and potentially infect others. Bandanas are more effective than not wearing a mask at all, but their opening at the bottom and their material leaves them only thirty to twenty percent effective. Neck fleeces made of spandex might be even worse than not wearing a mask at all. These coverings make the particles smaller, increasing the transmission rate. None of this matters though if you don’t even believe that Covid is a real threat.