The truth about masks


With 20 states and Puerto Rico reporting a record number of new coronavirus infections in the past week, and with at least 3.4 million cases total and more than 138,000 deaths, the pandemic is forcing us all to rethink our behavior.

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The truth about masks

In particular, the issue of wearing a mask in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has moved from political football to something necessary to board a plane.

The mask problem was politically charged from the start when President Trump announced in early April that he would not wear a mask at the same press conference at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that he had changed his guidelines to include some sort of tissue on the nose and mouth in public to protect yourself and others from the contraction of COVID-19.

Since then, the president has donned a mask several times, most recently during a visit to Walter Reed Hospital, and more than 20 states are now imposing masks as an outbreak continues across the country. In some states, such as Texas, orders to wear a mask vary from county to county. In other states, such as Indiana, protests broke out against the masking rules.

So where is the public on the wearing of masks?

Gallup has followed the public sentiment about the masks, and his results give us a good understanding of our behavior.

The good news is that 9 out of 10 Americans say they used a mask last week. But once you explore the data, the actual masking activity is not so promising. The survey offered respondents a range of choices in terms of how often they wear masks, which also included “very often”, “sometimes” and “rarely”.

This is where things get tricky and highly political.

Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to wear a face mask outside the home. Sixty-one percent of Democrats say they still wear a mask, compared to 24 percent of Republicans, according to poll results. Meanwhile, 27 percent of Republicans say they never wear a mask outside the home, compared to just 1 percent of Democrats.

Gallup also found differences based on gender and region. Fifty-four percent of women still report wearing a face cover outside the home, compared to 34 percent of men. Meanwhile, 54% of Americans living in the Northeast say they still wear masks, compared to 47% in the South, 42% in the West and 33% in the Midwest.

Although we hear it almost daily, the virus doesn’t seem to care where you come from, how you voted or your views on politics. He simply searches for a body and infects it.

Scientists around the world argue in favor of the mask as a line of defense, not a panacea. It’s a tool in our toolbox. Why not use it?

The issue of masks should be as simple as wearing a seat belt. It is a matter of security. Put politics aside and opt for prevention and protection. The more difficult will be the question of application.

Americans are struggling with the mask problem, just as we are struggling with all the behavioral changes associated with the virus. Part of the reason is that the rules are constantly changing and the message is confused.

Over the weekend, general surgeon Jerome Adams said, “I want people to understand why they should wear a face covering and they will be more likely to do so and more likely to do so willingly and they will be more likely do it when we are not looking at what is important. ”

How is it for clarity?

And just as we thought that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, was in charge, he seemed to have been sidelined in recent weeks. But this week, he’s back at the White House.

Confusion is the theme of this administration. When nobody is in control, everyone is in control and things get out of control, as we see with the spread of COVID-19.

As far as I’m concerned, the truth about masks is simple: don’t ask, wear a mask.

Tara D. Sonenshine is the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

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