Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in a CNN interview that a nationwide face mask mandate may be warranted.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, the CDC and the White House — along with Dr. Fauci — stated that mask wearing wasn’t necessary for people who weren’t in healthcare. At that time, their position was based on two factors. The first factor was that very little was known about COVID at the time, and research showed that the virus passed from person to person through droplets and did not travel far through the air.
The second factor was the severe PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage for healthcare personnel. At the time — just as it is now — it was imperative to keep healthcare personnel healthy enough to care for the rest of the population through the pandemic.
Fast forward to the fall of 2020. Scientists have gained knowledge about the virus, there’s currently a viable vaccine (or two), and the entire country is seeing an epic surge in coronavirus cases. Public health officials are imploring the public to remain physically distant (six to 10 feet apart) and wear a mask. As of mid-November 2020, a quarter of a million people in America have died of COVID-19. Many of those that have sadly passed away were elderly or with pre-existing conditions. However, COVID-19 has also claimed enough young and healthy people for everyone to be wary of.
As with the start of the pandemic, the nation is back to square one due to the surge in the pandemic. As a country, we are worrying again about PPE, lockdowns, and testing. You would think that, during these trying times, the nation would agree on one thing — to mask or not to mask.
As the coronavirus sweeps through America, the nation remains divided regarding mask wearing. For some people, masks are unnecessary and impose on their freedoms. For others, masks are an effective evidence-based intervention in the fight against a very real pandemic. Unfortunately, the safety of everyone requires the participation of many — not just half of the population.
Is Dr. Fauci’s assessment accurate? Should we all be mandated to wear a mask? Is it, sadly, too late for a mandate?
8. Face Masks Keep Viruses from Spreading to Others
A Nature Medicine study found that even surgical masks, which don’t fit as tightly as N95 masks, block almost all contagious droplets that the mask wearers expelled. By wearing masks, wearers prevent other people around them from getting their germs when they breath and talk.
7. No Improvement in Mask Wearing Practices Mean More Deaths
According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 49% of Americans wear face masks, which is not enough. Even when combined with social distancing measures, computer models project a half million deaths from COVID by February 2021.
6. A Face Mask Mandate Might Save More Than a Hundred Thousand Lives
Computer modeling from IHME also shows hope. If 95% of Americans wore a mask along with current social distancing guidelines, the half a million deaths projected can decrease to 381,798 deaths. Just one death is tragic and 381,798 is still an astronomical number. However, preventing almost 130,000 deaths — simply by 95% of the population wearing masks — is significant.
5. The Medical Community Advocates a National Face Mask Mandate
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), along with the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association, encourages the universal use of masks. Having witnessed the ravages of COVID-19 firsthand, the medical community has an intimate understanding of the costs of not wearing a mask.
4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Calls Wearing a Face Mask a “Civic Duty”
There are many things we do that show allegiance to our government and fellow Americans. Face mask wearing may be one of them. Wearing a face mask shows concern and respect for our fellow Americans, members of our families, and our communities in general.Related: How Often Can You Use Reusable Masks Between Washing?
3. State Data Show the Effectiveness of Face Masks
States which implement universal masking efforts have significantly fewer coronavirus cases and deaths than states who do not. Georgia and Florida, for example, have been hesitant to implement face mask wearing guidelines, and have seen large spikes in cases.
2. A National Mask Mandate Could Save the Economy
According to Goldman Sachs, a national mask mandate could keep the US from experiencing a major drop in GDP. When lockdowns occur, the economy takes a beating. Furthermore, even if lockdowns don’t happen, rising COVID-19 case numbers can keep consumers in their homes and lead to empty restaurants and shops. With record unemployment rates occurring, a nationwide face mask mandate could be the key to boosting the economy and creating jobs.
1. National Mask Mandate Could Take the Stigma Out of Mask Wearing
In a report entitled “Social and behavioral consequences of mask policies during the COVID-19 pandemic,” scientists found that voluntary mask wearing guidelines actually cause people to view face masks as unfair and can make people feel stigmatized. Mandatory masking policies provide people with a way to avoid the social pressure of not wearing a mask, thus increasing mask use.
A national mask mandate may not be easy to initiate or implement, but it could be the right path to take. It’s not too late to prevent deaths. We won’t need a national mask mandate, however, if everyone makes the effort to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.Related: Made at Home Face Mask- No Sewing Machine Needed!