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Potentially Divisive Opinion



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To the Editor:

I’m responding to the editorial “Who is Behind the Mask?” I find the opinions and sentiments included to be potentially divisive and believe that they may cause discrimination against a certain group of people: those who are spotted without a mask on in public.

I rarely ever see someone in public nowadays who isn’t wearing a mask, so I’m not sure why “non-mask-wearing” is a big issue. Nevertheless, the author is proposing that those who “wear the mask” have something akin to the moral high ground, and I find that shocking. I think it’s dismissive to label someone who doesn’t want to wear a mask as just plain “bad” while someone who wears a mask is just plain “good.”

There are many different opinions swirling around about the use of masks because of the coronavirus situation, but it’s important to be considerate and practical. Regardless of the scientific argument over wearing a mask, people in America have individual free will, the right to decide what they are willing and not willing to do. Just because an “expert” on television or an elected official recommends a certain behavior doesn’t mean that every single person has to partake. The right to choose how we conduct our lives and respecting those individual choices must be a priority. If we label non-mask wearers as “selfish” and “irresponsible” it undermines individualism.

I think masks are mostly being pushed because they make some people feel better and less afraid that they’ll contract the virus. I fully support the individuals who choose to wear a mask because it makes them feel better. The author explains how those who don’t wear a mask can be judged as “inconsiderate” and “uncourteous,” meaning they might hurt the feelings of a mask-wearer because they lack proper “manners.” At the end of the day, we are only fully responsible for our own behavior.

I disagree that it is “apparent” that covering the nose and mouth with a piece of fabric and social distancing has protected others from contracting the virus. There are many alternate explanations for why the death numbers have been decreasing on a monthly basis, including that the virus is actually less deadly than was predicted and/or as the temperature has been rising, the virus dies more quickly in the air. Remember that virologists in virology labs wear full-body hazmat suits that cover their entire face to protect themselves. Why didn’t the CDC recommend that we wear goggles as well?

Our respiration system was designed to exhale pathogens out of our mucous membranes in our nose and mouth and into the air. If we are trapping the exhalation of pathogens inside our masks, we are certainly more likely to contract the virus than if we properly exhaled it out of our bodies, as we are naturally designed to do. Critical thinking during this disruptive event is something we can’t afford not to use.

Amanda LoCascio

9 Overlook Drive, Newtown July 29, 2020

Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. dennis brestovansky says:

    While I concur that labelling people or judging people is not helpful or right, there are some inconsistencies in what is written here.
    First, for many, masks are not being pushed nor are they being worn to protect the wearer. Informed wearers understand that a primary benefit of wearing a mask is to protect those around us – to prevent the wearer for transmitting the disease to others – not to protect themselves. It is known that even asymptomatic people can spread the virus. The last paragraph in the letter acknowledges that masks trap the virus or particles or droplets that carry the virus. A main mode of disease transmission is for such droplets to reach an uninfected person. So, unless one believes that a mask is 100% transmissive – that is, it does not at all restrict the flow of particles or droplets – then there is unquestionably some level of risk reduction for people in the vicinity of the mask wearer. We can debate the degree of risk reduction, but it is certainly more than not wearing a mask at all. In making the personal choice not to wear a mask and then go to public places where one might come into contact with others, one is choosing to not to provide whatever degree of protection a mask provides to others in that public place. I am not passing judgement or labelling anyone who chooses not to wear a mask. Where it gets complicated is making that choice, thereby increasing risks for people around us. For example, should it be a personal choice for students returning to classrooms in the fall as to whether to wear a mask or not?

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