Opinion: Wearing face masks has become a political stance


Jean Holman

On June 24, Governor Roy Cooper stated that North Carolinians must wear face masks in public. However, despite many following this law, there are exceptions. Statistics show that more Democrats wear face masks compared to Republicans. Although some North Carolinians wear masks to protect their health, others wear them as a political stance. Democratic and Republican politicians have stated and/or shown their large concern over wearing masks, however, Trump has contradicted himself.

There are a couple common arguments as to why people refuse to wear masks; they have a health problem, do not believe in the severity of COVID-19, or see it as a violation of their freedom. Numerous news articles describe stories of citizens disagreeing about wearing a face covering. For example, in one situation, a customer threatens a business owner with a gun, declaring they do not have to wear a face mask. This is an instance where people take things too far. A face covering may undermine your personal freedom, but not wearing one threatens someone else’s health.  

Surveys show that there are more democrats who wear face masks than republicans. Donald Trump has been wishy washy in donning a face mask himself. He’s been seen wearing a face mask and not, such as when he visited a mask factory in Michigan with other Republicans. I can’t help but wonder if some Republicans refuse to wear a mask because they have seen Trump without one. Opposers to face masks and social distancing may feel this way since political leaders like Trump have stated or shown little concern for the spread of infection. Thus, wearing face masks is a political statement rather than a health concern. Some may wonder, if the people in charge of our country do not take the new coronavirus seriously, why should we? In reality, North Carolinians should wear face masks in public places where they may have contact with crowds to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Scientific reports prove that face masks are effective. 

In one study, scientists conducted tests with adults and children who had the flu, COVID-19 or the rhinovirus, to see whether a surgical face mask stopped the spread of these infections. The result? Face masks help prevent droplets containing the virus from escaping into the air. 

In another study, scientists gathered data from health facilities and public areas to see if face masks prevented the spread of germs and to determine which mask is the most effective. Researchers found that respirators and surgical masks are most effective for stopping coronavirus infection. 

Scientists part of the “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1” research tested two strains of the coronavirus on plastic, aerosols, cardboard, copper and stainless steel to see how long the viruses lived. Evidence showed that the coronavirus can live for about three days on materials such as plastic. Thus, it is necessary for people to wear face masks and wash their hands if they are going to public areas and are going to touch or pick up anything plastic or made of steel.

A lot of people reject the face mask requirement because of misinformation about COVID-19. One side sees the mask as an infringement on personal freedom, and the other views face masks as a protection from disease. However, both Democrat and Republican politicians have been seen with and without face coverings at social gatherings. Some people may be wearing masks just because Democratic leaders propose that all citizens should wear masks. This could stem from the “bandwagon effect,” in which people join a trend because it is popular and new. It may be the same for Republicans; some supporters of Trump may follow whatever Trump and other republican politicians do, like not wearing face coverings. Bottom line is: everyone (except citizens with breathing problems and other serious ailments) should wear face masks in public places because it is scientifically proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19.