The decision to wear or avoid them in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic signaling whether people have chosen to comply with public health guidelines which have taken on political dimensions.
Obviously, most were not wearing face masks.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Whitmer said the protesters, with whom President Donald Trump was on side, dredged up “some of the worst racism and worst parts of our history in this country.”
This cultural and political divide has appeared even beyond the extreme protests that are happening in the country.
On April 30, the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, issued an emergency proclamation requiring, among other things, the use of face covers in stores and restaurants to slow the spread of the virus. But authorities amended it the next day after a series of verbal abuses and threats of physical abuse.
“Many objectors cite the mistaken belief that the requirement is unconstitutional, and according to their theory, one cannot be forced to wear a mask,” said city manager Norman McNickle in a statement, referring to which tends to be a subject of conservative discussion in arguments in favor of non-compliance with certain public health guidelines. “No law or court supports this view. (…) It is even more painful that these people, while exercising their presumed rights, put others in danger. “
(Notably, masks without medical grade respirators are less for wearers than for those around them to whom they could unknowingly transmit the virus.)
This followed a similar turnaround elsewhere in the country. Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine on April 28 canceled an announcement he had made the day before asking residents of the state to wear face masks in stores.
“It became clear to me that it was just a bridge too far, that people were not going to accept the government telling them what to do,” he told ABC News on Sunday. “In general, Republicans are less likely to ask the government to tell them what to do. “
This is another example from one side of the political aisle that does not believe in or disregard science. And in light of new modeling that cases and deaths will increase as states relax restrictions, this is the kind of move that could threaten people’s real lives.
Of course, there are people who ignore or obey the recommendations of medical authorities without intending to make their political views known. In addition, some people have legitimate reasons to be wary of wearing face masks.
“We have many examples of the alleged crime of black men in general,” Trevon Logan, a professor of economics at Ohio State University, told CNN. “And then we have the advice to go out in public into something that … can certainly be read as criminal or harmful, especially when applied to black men. “
That said, as parts of the country plan to reopen, it’s hard to ignore how these strange times have turned face masks from tools to promote public health into statements of political value – statements that can have very real consequences.