The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides numerous helpful tips to protect yourself amidst COVID-19. One of these highly suggest covering your mouth and nose when around other people. As of July 16th, the CDC reported 3,483,832 cases and 136,930 deaths from COVID-19 within the US. This means that 1,042.3 cases exist per 100,000 people. Wearing a mask in public decreases the spread of the virus significantly as opposed to if no one wore masks at all. So, with this, why do people still need reminders? Since this pandemic began and even more so now, social media continues to flood with reminders to wear a mask; nonetheless, some people continually refuse and overall, take COVID-19 less seriously than they should. In order for people to remain safe amidst businesses reopening, wearing a mask and social distancing still need to take place.
As wearing a mask created controversy within the last few months, here are six important reasons as to why this back and forth debate needs to end.
Wearing is Caring
If you truly believe that your immune system can handle the effects of COVID-19, then take a step back and realize that your body may endure things that others’ bodies cannot. Wearing a mask in public can offer just as much benefit to you as it can to those around you. “Masks should be worn in public strictly because it is another way to protect those around you from catching anything you may be carrying,” University of Central Florida junior Lauren Luteran said. “It is more for the safety of others.” If wearing a mask seems unnecessary to you, think of people with underlying health issues who can possibly suffer from the consequences of your decision not to wear a mask.
Many times, people end up asymptomatic but test positive for the virus. What you may disregard as a simple cough or sneeze, could turn into something bigger for the person next to you when out and about. “It’s the easiest act of kindness,” University of Florida sophomore Charlotte Dwyer said. Wearing a mask lowers that chance of spreading COVID-19 and will help keep you and those in your community safe and healthy.
Putting your Mind at Ease
Although not the most comfortable physically (even though you should feel used to it by now), knowing that you and those around you take the necessary precautions, your mind will feel more at ease when heading out in public. When you come home to your family or friends, if everyone took the necessary precautions that day, spreading COVID within your household won’t consume your worries. “Wearing a mask definitely makes me feel more comfortable knowing that it lowers my chances of contracting the virus,” University of Central Florida senior Ambar Rodriguez said. A physical act that does not ask of much and that helps the greater good should not even result in question. These last few months put a lot of stress in our minds–why make it harder for anyone else by causing them to worry?
Giving off a Particular Message
The message you give off when you DON’T wear a mask
Recklessness: when you don’t wear a mask, a certain message may come across to everyone else. Primarily it shows a lack of selflessness. “I think [those who do not wear a mask] do not have any respect for their fellow neighbors and citizens and do not care about their own health or the health of others around them,” Howard University senior Neal Mohit said. It simply shows that you intentionally choose to ignore the recommended guidelines to ensure a healthy life for everyone. This also pertains to when you engage in large gatherings without any masks worn.
Mask or not, this says a lot about someone during this time. If you cannot resist the urge to throw that big party, at the very least consider wearing masks. However, a message still comes across when other necessary precautions, such as social distancing, do not get followed. “Not wearing a mask shows very reckless behavior, especially amongst young people that do not have any self-control or common sense to stay home and isolate, but rather party in large gatherings and spread the virus even further,” Mohit said. If we all just follow the suggestions that keep us safe and healthy, then sooner or later you can throw those parties and attend those large get-togethers.
The messages you give off when you DO wear a mask
Showing you are up-to-date with the rest of society: reality check. We all know COVID-19 cases continue to increase, so why deny that? You see it on social media, on the news and from the CDC themselves. If you look around and realize that everyone walks around wearing a mask but you, what message does that give off? “It makes me feel more comfortable when I see other people wearing masks as it shows me that they are aware of the current circumstances and are also educated on how serious this is,” University of Florida sophomore Mackenzie Kurth said. Wearing a mask in public shows how much concern you hold for a healthier future. An abundance of resources exists to help you understand the reality of this virus. Wearing a mask enhances the idea that you willingly educate yourself and do what deems necessary to keep you and everyone else safe. For more resources, check out these resources from the CDC and the World Health Organization.
You trust professionals
Another thing to think about revolves around the idea of how much time, effort and risk health professionals put themselves through. “People who do not wear masks do not value the efforts being made by medical personnel around the world trying daily to suppress this horrible virus,” Mohit said. We all heard the conspiracies about the origin of the virus, but at the end of the day, COVID-19 still exists. People work diligently on treating COVID-19 patients and creating a vaccine.
By wearing a mask, you show respect for those risking their lives. “I think that their choice to not wear a mask means that they are consciously denying the scientific evidence that defines how this virus spreads,” University of Florida junior Kalia Richardson said. “When you understand that COVID is a respiratory disease and you consciously decide to NOT wear a mask, you really harm the vulnerable individuals in the population.” The less you wear a mask, the higher the risk, meaning another patient to care for, putting even more people at risk at the end of the day.
Showing you hold EVERYONE’s best interest
Mentioned earlier, more than just the risk of your health gets put on the line. “While I am not scared of contracting the virus personally, I still wear a mask in order to protect my family and other peoples’ families and try to do my part in stopping the spread because I would not want my own family to be exposed to it and risk them having a complication due to the virus,” University of Florida junior Alex Clouser said. “I also would not want these things to happen to anyone else’s family because of my carelessness in choosing not to wear a mask.” Many people come home at the end of the day to parents, grandparents, younger siblings or even friends who may hold health complications. They already worry about heading straight to the shower, washing their hands and spraying Lysol over the whole house. Why add that extra worry to someone that you potentially gave them the virus?
It’s not difficult
So maybe your argument revolves around the idea that ‘a mask does not protect too much, so why should I wear one?’ If you think you look silly when you wear a mask, then wake up. Wearing a mask won’t hurt your ego. If you hang around people who make you feel like it would, maybe you should consider hanging out with different people. “I personally don’t see how it could negatively affect someone. Why should someone get offended by me trying to protect myself and others? Do they think that me wearing a mask is me saying they have the virus and I want to protect myself from them? Because if so, they’re kind of right. I do want to protect myself from them and if they are offended by that, so be it,” Kurth said. A simple act of kindness can go a long way. In this time we live in, wearing a mask can come across as that simple act. Toss the ego aside and think of the greater good.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not political
As conversations about mask requirements across the country make their way to political debates, I ask you to toss that aside for a second. Regardless of what your beliefs lead you to think, just think of wearing a mask as showing common sense. Caring about others’ health should not create a political talking point. Caring about you and your family’s health should not even create a political talking point. “While I can see how people would take it as a political issue and how some people might have a problem with the government specifically forcing people to wear masks or risk being punished, for example, I do not believe it to be a political issue as I think it is just common sense and decent courtesy to yourself and others during a health crisis to wear a mask in public so as to end quarantine sooner and stop the spread of the virus,” Clouser said. Whether or not your state requires masks, just think about how silly it sounds to say you would not protect others’ health because of your political views—where do those thoughts even cross paths?
Life can resume
About five months ago we all packed our bags, cleaned our apartments and headed back home. We transitioned to online learning and became experts in Zoom, but as time goes by, we long for the day we can see our beautiful campuses again. By doing simple things such as wearing a mask, that hope can turn into a reality much sooner. “Even if it is remote learning or a hybrid mix that allows for socially distant classes, I think going back to campus is beneficial for my mental health as being stuck at home with your family 24/7 can be stressful sometimes,” Kurth said. We should not look forward to getting back to “normal,” but rather looking forward to a safer and healthier future, knowing everyone complies with professional backed recommendations for that ideal future. You know you long for the day we can all gather at a restaurant, head to the clubs or experience football season–everyone wants those days to return. However, until everyone aligns themselves on the same page, it won’t happen as fast as you would like.
Wearing a mask may not stand as the cure for COVID-19, but not only does it help protect us a bit more, it also shows compassion and consideration for others. “In order for cases to go down, the entire country, or at least a majority of it, needs to be on the same page and realize it is a collective effort by every citizen of the good old US of A that needs to contribute to helping each other get through this mess of a pandemic with the least amount of death, heartache, and financial setbacks,” Mohit said. Great job if you wear your mask in public, but so many people still refuse to, making it an unnecessary issue. Explained In an interview with CDC Director, Robert R. Redfield, M.D., if for about two months we all just wore the mask, we could look forward to a healthier future and we could grasp better control of COVID-19. Think about that.