OPINION: Unmasking the Lack of Progress


Photographs courtesy of www.jhsph.edu

Since March 2020, there’s been a never-ending loop of distress and death brought by the coronavirus outbreak, and it still seems to be causing issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the way the coronavirus spreads and affects people is by passing through moisture droplets in the air and entering the body. Considering how frequently people talk, cough, sneeze and breathe, this means there are many ways the virus can be passed from person to person, making it highly contagious.

That being said, there are ways to slow the spread. The first one is by washing your hands, which helps remove a lot of settled moisture particles from the potentially contaminated air off of your hands. The next method is by maintaining six feet of distance from all individuals, mask or not. That point leads to the most important method for slowing the spread: WEAR A MASK. It seems easy enough – just a small piece of layered material preventing body fluids from passing through the air as moisture droplets. Presumably, the response should be compliance, considering the fact that mask-wearing is a small way to ease this issue. Instead? People cry injustice and protest wearing masks in a dim, yet persistent, effort to “defend personal rights.” Even worse, there’s a growing population of “Anti-Vaxxers” insisting that the COVID-19 vaccine is somehow worse than contracting the virus.

Now, what is especially important to consider here is just how deeply progress is being affected by these obstacles. Keep in mind that these recommendations are being made by trained scientists, experts, and healthcare professionals based on the most recent information on the coronavirus. Yet, their word is being criticized and invalidated. The consensus among “Anti-Maskers” is that the healthcare professionals are plotting to take their freedoms away, starting with the rule to wear masks. As a result of people refusing to perform such a simple action, the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 increases, and so does the spread. This means that the risk is greater for everyone involved, even if some are doing their part. This affects everyone, from elderly people to teens, and can make common areas like grocery stores incredibly dangerous for everyone.

What is the best course of action? Making masks a legal necessity. Requesting that people wear masks may encourage disregard, not to mention the frequent habit of individuals wearing their masks incorrectly (by not covering their nose). Legally requiring face coverings would allow businesses the freedom to respond more seriously when their safety is jeopardized by those who choose not to believe in wearing masks. The hope is that, with time, this law can be lifted as the spread slows and the severity of the situation is respected by much of the American public.

It may seem like the situation is something outside of our reach as UIS students. However, all it takes is an instant of awareness or a brief moment of asking someone to pull their mask up. Encouraging people to wear the right masks and doing the research on COVID-19 can encourage a shift in direction so that enough lives can be saved. No matter how bleak the situation seems at times, the small things are what will get us through.