Wear your mask correctly!

Staff Editorial

COVID-19 cases are rising in the United States, with a case count of over thirteen million and a death count of 296,818 on Dec. 13. With cases on a consistent rise, people need to start following CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and not just wear a face covering. You can’t just wear a “mask,” but you have to wear a correct mask. The CDC recommends a two-layer mask, the two best options are a non-medical disposable mask or a cloth mask that is made from cotton or a blend of cotton, and to wear these above your nose. The CDC also strongly recommends not to wear a face shield by itself.  The purpose of a face shield is to protect your eyes and it will not prevent the spread of the virus through the mouth. A face shield does just about nothing, it isn’t acceptable to wear alone and should be paired with a mask. The purpose of a mask is to collect respiratory droplets that contain the virus, and the fabric is what traps these droplets, not allowing them to not spread. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to what fabric the mask is made of because not all materials will be thick enough to trap the molecules that contain the deadly virus.  

The U.S. government and health departments are encouraging masks more than ever, so why are Americans still not listening? Some believe COVID-19 is the same as the Flu and should not be taken as seriously as it is and some think that because the survival rate is so high they shouldn’t worry about it. According to Johns Hopkins, the flu and COVID-19 are completely different. Since about a year ago COVID-19 has killed more people in the U.S than the flu has in the last five years, and this is on top of taking extra precautions like wearing masks and quarantining. Imagine how much worse COVID-19 would be if people didn’t take these precautions. Because COVID-19 spreads so easily and has no vaccine, it is ultimately more dangerous than the flu. 

USA Today states that hospitals are overwhelmed due to the pandemic. Even if most people do survive COVID-19, not following simple precautions like wearing masks will cause hospitals to reach full capacity and will not allow for people to receive the care they need as soon as possible. Healthcare workers will be overworked and exhausted. People who have conditions that don’t seem to be life threatening may have to wait to be assisted. This will cause deaths that are not even COVID-19 related. Even if Americans don’t think COVID-19 will affect them, their actions will affect others. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused from the deadly virus are not pleasant. These deaths consist of loneliness and suffering. People who die from COVID-19 are isolated and tell their family goodbye through screens. These are real people, 296,818 real people in the U.S who have gone through such a companionless death.

Health care workers are not the only employers being affected by people who refuse to follow CDC guidelines. There are so many horror stories of minimum wage workers having to  deal with people who refuse to wear masks. Working in customer service has never been easy nonetheless with a pandemic. People who work in customer service, who are often making close to minimum wage, should not have to deal with people who believe it is okay to not follow that business’s policies when it comes to masks. These workers should not have to deal being yelled at as well as being possibly exposed to COVID-19. 

 A lot of Americans believe that in this time they should be allowed to do whatever they see fit, such as not wearing a mask. The thing is, here in America people don’t have the right to do whatever they want in the case of protecting others, and almost everyone is fine with that. For instance, driving the speed limit is a law in America, but it is a huge inconvenience because it takes longer to get where you want to go. So why is a speed limit so agreed upon? 

“I drive within the speed limit to keep myself and others safe and so I do not get a ticket,” says senior Ella Nicely. Driving the speed limit and wearing a mask is very similar in this way. They are both small inconveniences that do a lot more good than harm. In fact, there are many laws that have been made that limit Americans’ freedoms for their safety and other people’s safety that no one even blinks an eye at, but masks are different because there are no tickets given when you do not wear a mask. Maybe in order to get people to start wearing masks thier should be some form of punishment. Another reason driving the speed limit and wearing masks are perceived as different is because masks have become a political issue. 

Wearing a mask didn’t need to turn into a political affair, but sadly it quickly did. According to The Conversation, President Donald Trump often downplayed the importance of wearing a mask and even refused to wear one. The Conversation says that 23% of republicans agreed that masks should never be worn or rarely be worn with 4% of Democrats also agreeing. Politicians started to be listened to rather than experts, making this an example of cognitive dissidence. This means people only believe certain sources based on their biases. In this case, those biases were following politicians rather than medical experts because politicians told the people what they wanted to hear.

In Beaver County, there are now over 4,000 cases and over 160 deaths. America needs to get serious about COVID-19. Laws should be made so minimum wage workers no longer have to be exposed to people refusing to wear masks without punishment. Refusing to wear a mask is not a statement of freedom, or a political statement but is something that potentially harms or kills another person. Wear a two-layer cotton mask or two-layer non-medical disposable mask in order to stop the spread of  COVID-19, listen to the experts, and social distance. Who knows?  Taking these precautions could save a life.