Photo courtesy of Martin Sanchez

This is a plea for those who have been against wearing a mask to please reconsider your beliefs. This is not a hoax, it is a real invader that has upended the world. This virus is virulent and we need to take it seriously. In the US, as of July 27, 2020, approximately 149,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19, and this number changes daily. 

COVID-19 is much more deadly than the regular seasonal flu that we experience each year. According to statistics by the CDC, annual deaths from seasonal influenza over the last 10 years range from a low of 12,000 (2011-2012) to a high of 61,000 (2017-2018). Compare this with COVID-19 deaths to date of approximately 149,000 in four months.

Mask wearing should not be rooted in politics, entitlement, vanity, or skepticism. Non-mask wearers generally feel their rights are violated by having to wear one, and mask wearers feel their rights are violated by those not wearing a mask. The decision to wear a mask should be a logical, prudent and compassionate one.

There are anti-smoking and drunk driving laws which were enacted to protect the public from harm or death caused by people who engaged in these behaviors at the expense of other people’s health and safety. Mask mandates are being put in place to protect people from COVID-19.

It has been researched and confirmed that masks protect. Research has shown that the one wearing the mask is doing so to protect others near him/her in case he/she is infected. Many people are infected and don’t know it. So it’s important to wear a mask even if you are asymptomatic. 

People also should wear a mask for their own protection against being exposed to others who might be contagious and are not wearing a mask. More studies are needed on the degree to which face masks protect the wearer, but an NPR article dated June 20, 2020 states that laboratory testing showed that a surgical face mask filters out 75% of small particles to protect the mask wearer.  

Let’s take a lesson from New York. The following is an excerpt from a July 18, 2020 article published in Vogue. 

This is somewhat out of the ordinary: Historically, New Yorkers are not known for their patience or their politeness. But that was before the tent hospitals in Central Park and the refrigerated trucks parked outside of hospitals throughout Manhattan, or the commandeering of the Javits Center and the U.S. Open for overflow COVID-19 patients. March was a demarcation line for many of us New Yorkers. The weeks of silent streets regularly punctuated by the sound of ambulance sirens changed all of us who stayed in the city. We saw early on the frightening implications of this coronavirus pandemic and when the government told us to put on our face masks, we obeyed. Sure, there are still people who go running along the Hudson River mask-free, or who sip cocktails at outdoor bars with their friends, their masks hanging around the necks. But when they enter a store or any other establishment that requires wearing a mask, they do so without complaint.”

As of July 17, 2020, the majority of states are either partially or fully mandating the wearing of face masks. This delivers a strong message, but it is difficult to enforce. If you care about other people, and you want to contribute to eradicating this virus so it doesn’t continue to control our world and take lives, please put on a little mask for the short period of time needed when you go out in public. Our country is already so divided. We must help each other. We need to engage in this small act to work together for a common goal, to save and restore our lives and economy.