The wearing of a face mask when in public continues to be a matter of controversy. A video of a man trying to force himself past a Walmart employee in Florida has gone viral. A women in Ventura County California castigates county council members for requiring masks saying she refuses to wear a mask because she is “not a terrorist” and “not a sex slave”.
I work at the Indiana Government Center (North), and the policy of wearing a mask has been instituted. My particular department (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) has stated a policy of wearing masks unless you are in your own personal cube. And yet some people refuse to wear the mask. The commissioner of IDEM “strongly encourages” the policy, but has stated the policy will not be enforced by dismissal or other disciplinary measures.
What is going on that this issue has become so fractious? As this Wired article notes:
THE RECENT BACK-AND-FORTH debate—and policy reversal—over the use of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 reveals a glaring double standard. For some reason, we’ve been treating this one particular matter of public health differently. We don’t see op-eds that ask whether people really need to keep 6 feet away from each other on the street, as opposed to 3 feet, or that cast doubt on whether it’s such a good idea to promote bouts of handwashing that are 20 seconds long. But when it comes to covering our faces, a scholarly hyper-rigor has been applied.
Part of the problem is that for months, the federal government has recommended that the general public not wear masks, in part to help preserve them for health care workers. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until now has said the general public did not need to wear masks unless they came into contact with coronavirus patients or if they were sick. But the CDC has reversed itself recently and recommended the general public SHOULD wear masks. Such reversals from the “experts” always results in a lot of public hoopla. Although, if someone is an “expert” why wouldn’t we expect them to change their mind in the light of new information? Isn’t that what good scientists are supposed to do?
Here’s the problem – the research literature on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive answers. There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results. The scientific basis for health care workers using masks doesn’t come from clinical trials of influenza outbreaks or pandemics. It comes from laboratory simulations showing that masks can prevent viral particles from getting through.
Despite all this seeming equivocation on the part of public health scientists, a clear consensus has emerged; and this is the key point I wish to emphasize. The consensus is that even simple cloth masks are effective in minimizing the transmission of the virus if the wearer is infected.
The fact that someone can be asymptomatic and still a transmitter of the virus makes this a very important, if not vital, point. One of the argumentative points the Ventura county women was making was that she was a “healthy American” and so didn’t need to wear a mask. The problem is that she had no way of knowing that for certain, even if she had been tested recently. One can be infected and transmissive for up to two weeks or more before symptoms become obvious. No one can see the virus and no one knows at which point they become a danger to people around them. That is why it is necessary for YOU to wear a mask in public.
If you disagree with me, and think you have some constitutional right to infect your neighbors, then answer me this: If you needed surgery, would you want the doctors and nurses on your surgical team to be masked or not?
Don’t be a hypocrite. Especially if you profess to be a Christian. Shouldn’t you be obeying Philippians 2:3-4?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Because, as noted in the Philippians verses quoted above, it is a vain conceit for you not to wear a mask in public. There is really no good reason not to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Be a good neighbor.
Put the mask on.