With the politicization of COVID-19 mask wearing, and changes to guidelines every which way how can the American public know if they are protected enough?
By Emmanuel Simon
The greatest superheroes wear masks. Batman wears a mask, Spiderman wears a mask, Superman doesn’t wear a mask, (and if he did, maybe kryptonite wouldn’t be his weakness!) But have you ever heard of a superhero who wears two masks? According to the CDC and other ‘experts’, you can be a superhero by wearing, not one, but TWO masks. You can be like Batman and save lives by just putting on two masks.
But wait! How is Batman or Spiderman going to chase after the bad guy if they are wearing masks beneath their mask? They’ll get a notable COVID symptom: shortness of breath! Perhaps masking while fighting bad guys isn’t a good idea after all. We want to prevent COVID symptoms, not chase after them.
As a society, we too seek to be heroes by putting on masks. According to U.C. Davis’ research, wearing one mask protects a person from getting the virus by 65% (give or take a few depending on the mask). But, by wearing two masks, a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask, you can protect yourself from getting the virus by 90% (give or take a few). According to these ‘experts’, if you really want to be safe from COVID, you should protect yourself by wearing two masks.
Wearing two masks to protect yourself from COVID doesn’t sound like a crazy idea at all, right? If it helps to prevent the spread of COVID isn’t it well worth it?
On the other hand, you might be wondering, why not three? Wouldn’t three masks prevent the spread of COVID even better than two? Why not wear one disposable mask underneath two cloth masks? But if three masks prevent the spread of COVID more than two, does four masks prevent the spread of COVID more than three? And so on. I don’t see why not, do you?
Certainly, different masks appear to offer different levels of protection. For example, one N95 offers more protection than a cloth or disposable mask. However, it is claimed that wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask offers around the same protection as an N95. If that’s the case, would wearing three masks, a disposable under two clothes for example, be even more effective than wearing two masks or even an N95? Is it worth ditching the N95 for three or four masks if that means slowing down the spread of COVID even more? After all, aren’t we told to wear masks for the safety of ourselves and others? Perhaps wearing three or four masks is an act of charity!
At this point, one probably has more of a chance suffocating by wearing four masks than by dying from COVID-19. Breathing is important, so perhaps if four masks make it hard for you to breath, just wear three. Problem solved, right?
Not quite. Let's consider the following situation. Suppose our fictional character Karen attempts to wear four masks in order to reduce the probability of her getting and/or spreading COVID. After putting on the fourth mask, she finds it very difficult to breath. Karen takes off one mask so she can breathe better. However, having three masks on, she again finds it difficult to breath. Karen therefore takes off another mask, wearing two. For some reason, Karen finds it difficult to breathe with two masks, so she decides to wear only one. Again, (perhaps because of health reasons) Karen finds it difficult to breathe with one mask, so she wears none. It seems that places that mandate masks are inconsiderate of those who can’t wear one comfortably.
You may be wondering what the point of all this is. Well, it seems to me that our friends who recommend wearing more than one mask are destroying the credibility behind wearing masks. Ever since the pandemic started, COVID has been used for political purposes. To the perspective of some, the decision and reasoning behind wearing two masks is merely arbitrary. If a person is going to wear two masks since two masks are better than one, a person might as well wear ten masks since ten masks are better than two. Where are we going to draw the line?
In his Inaugural Address, President Biden noted the need for unity amongst all Americans. Politicizing COVID will do the very opposite. Given the arbitrariness behind double masking, the promotion of such appears to be a political tool.
Now, if the ‘experts’ or some other person wants to double mask, they can go for it. There’s no one stopping them. After all, it’s their body, their choice! But let's be consistent.
Melanie Moyer '22,