The pandemic of a new type of coronavirus, COVID-19, announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, has a profound impact on all aspects of life worldwide. Due to the threat of coronavirus, states are closing borders and introducing unprecedented security measures. COVID-19 kills people and attacks the global economy at the very heart – interrupts supply chains and affects businesses and workplaces. Whole countries and cities are isolated; borders are being closed. Companies are struggling to prevent shutdowns, and families that have lost their jobs struggle to make a living.
With many of the health problems associated with the pandemic, societal and political concerns have also emerged. People understand that coronavirus is dangerous, mainly because it has not been taken seriously in many countries until now. Governments have introduced the necessary rules to contain the coronavirus outbreak and prevent its further spread. Many people began to protest against the rules, citing that it restricted their rights as citizens.
The self-isolation regime is beginning to displease people in different countries. They are demanding that the authorities allow them to work, as the measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus are hitting the economy and depriving them of their livelihood. People were forced to wear masks in all public places, leading to misunderstandings and questions from many residents. Robert Roi Britt raises the crucial question of people’s attitudes towards such mandatory measures as masks and why they are needed. I totally agree that wearing a mask in society is a necessity.
The Arguments for Wearing Facemasks
Since the authorities in many US states imposed a mandatory rule on the wearing of masks, people began to resist this restriction. In other states, social distancing and wearing masks were voluntary measures, which led many people to refuse to comply with these measures. People explain their unwillingness to take precautions for many reasons, which, on the one hand, can be understood, but on the other hand, can be dangerous for others.
The main argument is that wearing a mask is an individual right of every person. People explain the failure to observe precautions since no one can make them violate their freedom, even for the safety of other citizens. It was noticed that some people, who are called COVID dissidents, ran up to people on the street and tore off their masks. Such actions violate the rights of citizens but, in the United States, this happens everywhere.
However, the requirement to wear masks in public in those states where the mask regime has been introduced and legislated cannot be considered an infringement or violation of consumer rights. Especially this concerns places “where social distancing is not possible” (Ju et al., 2021, p. 660). People do not need to wear masks outside and in open spaces. Nevertheless, in enclosed spaces, the rights of others to health must be respected to protect them from the possible consequences of illness. Therefore, the question is about the personal rights of individuals and the health of the nation during a pandemic.
Another problem is that the recommendations about wearing facemasks are constantly changing. Experts around the world “advised against the use of facemasks by the public due to a sense that their potential risks” (Schunemann et al., 2020, p. 955). At the initial pandemic stage in US, “facemasks were not advised for the general public” (Britt, 2020, p. 7). However, the more scientists read about the new disease, the more advice about precautions began to change. Although mask-wearing was voluntary and advisory in the early days of COVID-19, studies have concluded that masks are effective in protecting against the spread of the virus.
With the research and statistics provided by the health care system, people’s attitudes began to change. Thus, it was noticed that more people started to wear masks in public after providing official statistics on the protection of themselves and others. Despite constant changes in precautionary advice, mask policy is now firmly established in almost the entire world. This is argued that people should take care of their health and the health of people around them.
Many people question the effectiveness of the masks they have to wear all the time. Scientists around the world have concluded that masks do have an effect. It turned out that the average concentrations of particles leaving the mask along with the air currents (top, bottom, and side) were less than in the absence of a mask at all (Britt, 2020). However, the aerosol particles in these streams were more significant than in the air stream passing directly through the mask. Experiments have shown that the overall effectiveness of the mask, taking into account the percolation of particles from the slits, decreased (compared to the efficacy of containing particles passing through the mask).
The results show that medical masks still hold back the spread of particles well despite the gaps, but of course, they reduce these protectors’ overall effectiveness. However, scientists have found that most cloth masks are only one-tenth effective against coronavirus because they do not cover the face adequately. Therefore, respiratory masks are becoming the most effective for protection. Perhaps this is why people began to doubt the effectiveness of masks in general. However, when wearing a specific type of mask, the protection factor increases.
Some people mistakenly assume that they are only protecting themselves with masks. During the pandemic, it was noticed that people said that they were not afraid to get infected with COVID or do not believe in the existence of the disease. That is why they refuse to wear masks in public places. Not everyone understands that wearing a mask protects not only the person himself but also those around him, for whom the consequences of illness can be fatal.
The argument that many people refuse to wear masks also becomes the statement that a person is healthy. A person can indeed feel healthy, but the incubation period for COVID-19 is two weeks (Britt, 2020). In this case, a person can be a carrier of the virus and pose a danger to others. In several cases of COVID-19, severe symptoms develop with the development of respiratory failure. Many people reported on the manifestation of symptoms of the disease a week or more after contact with the patient. In this case, people “should wear face masks if they have respiratory symptoms” (Feng, 2020, p. 434). Wearing facemasks can prevent the global spread of the coronavirus. Person can get a COVID-19 from other people if they are infected with the virus.
Thus, wearing masks should become part of a set of measures to interrupt the transmission of infection and save lives; masking alone is not enough to provide adequate protection against COVID-19. To maximize the effectiveness of masks, they must be appropriately used, stored, handled, and disposed of. Thus, the mask is not a violation of personal rights but the observance of civil rights and responsibility for others.
Britt, R. R. (2020). The argument against the argument against facemasks. Medium.com. 5-8. Web.
Feng, S., Shen, C., Xia, N., Song, W., Fan, M., Cowling, B. J. (2020). Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 8(5), 434-436. Web.
Ju, J. T. J., Boisvert, L. N., Zuo, Y. Y. (2021). Face masks against COVID-19: Standards, efficacy, testing and decontamination methods. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 292, 660-665. Web.
Schunemann, H. J., Akl, E. A., Chou, R., Chu, D. K., Loeb, M., Lofti, T. (2020). Use of facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 8(10), 954-955. Web.