Many people believed masks would become history with the advent of COVID vaccinations. Instead, wearing these supposed safety shields has become a hot mess with Americans wondering if they should don a mask at all and, if so, where and when. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration is not helping the situation by sending out mixed messages that deviate from CDC recommendations. When asked recently by a reporter why he was still wearing his mask despite being vaccinated, the president snapped because “I’m worried about you.”
Herein lies the problem: many had hoped that they could skip the mask-wearing once they got the jab – but that appears to be only partially true. “I would get the vaccination in a New York minute,” said one Virginia hairstylist, “if it would mean I didn’t have to wear the mask anymore.” Since there appears to be a significant portion of Americans hesitant to submit to the vaccine, one wonders if these folks would acquiesce if they were permitted to shed their cloth and paper face coverings. But mask mandates are murkier than ever, and many fear public shaming or worse if they leave home without the dreaded mask.
Mask Up by Party Affiliation
By a two-to-one margin, Democrats are more likely to wear masks than Republicans. A May 5 poll conducted by Ipsos concluded:
“Though officials on both sides of the aisle are imploring Americans to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus, mask usage is still highly politicized. Republicans are less likely to think that masks should be worn when grocery shopping, socializing, or spending time in busy outdoor spaces.”
The survey found that 57% of Americans continue to put on face coverings before venturing outdoors. Among the generational categories, 65% of those labeled GenZ say they wear their mask all the time, as do 63% of those vaccinated. This is despite a recent CDC recommendation saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear their masks outside “except in certain crowded settings and venues.”
As mask recommendations have gotten more tangled up in politics, people fear public shaming or don’t want the hassle of being called out in public for not wearing a mask. Most Americans say they want to comply with mask etiquette this spring, but they have trouble figuring out just what it is. A prominent Washington newspaper noted that federal and state mandates are being superseded by local governments who want to get in on the act. “In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) recently relaxed the state mask mandate for people outdoors and able to distance. But the Boston suburb of Brookline is keeping its town mandate for now,” reported the newspaper.
What would happen, then, if a vaccinated individual from the next town over went into Brookline for a run? Would Brookline residents give him or her grief, or worse, would the Brookline police stop the jogger and threaten to throw him or her in the town lock-up? Micro-laws such as these have the U.S. population in a frenzy and reveal an incoherent policy regarding the wearing of masks.
The Bigger Picture
Though not widely discussed, there is concern that mask-wearing for long periods can pose serious “respiratory inflammation and even cause cancer known as mesothelioma,” according to Liberty Nation’s Pennel Bird. Researchers found that the nanofibers in masks “have a similar shape to asbestos” and are “smaller than the width of a human hair and can reach the lung cavity when inhaled,” according to a University of Edinburgh study conducted before the pandemic. It comes as no surprise, then, that people with asthma are particularly concerned about extensive mask-wearing.
Is it time to say enough is enough? With the pandemic winding down, those in the medical community need to get their act together on the business of masks because such chaos does not make for good health or sound public policy.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.