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Why Won't Some People Wear Masks?

Derek Lin
Grade 11
2020 has been an interesting year, for better or worse. We currently live in a very strange age of self-isolation and quarantine. When I go take a walk around the park, I often pass dozens of people wearing protective masks and face-coverings. It’s a way to not only protect themselves but to protect others. However, I also see dozens of people who don’t bother. Why don’t people take the easy way to protect themselves and simply wear a mask?

Studies have shown that only 55% of the population in Canada and the United States wear masks. Some speculate that the cause is from culture. Dr. Henry Redel, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ, says “people are hesitant to wear masks due to our culture and humans are used to using their faces to express emotions and communicate,”. He points out that cultures in Asia that have gotten used to respiratory viruses that have caused pandemics, have learned and gotten more used to the idea of wearing a mask, and as such, have had better results during the current pandemic.

Another reason might be that notable public figures have not been wearing masks. In the United States, President Donald Trump and vice-president Mike Pence have been reluctant and often refused to wear masks in public, even while visiting clinics. Public figures like these are meant to set an example for their people. Because Justin Trudeau wears a mask and often encourages other Canadians to do so, Canada has seen a larger part of their population wearing masks. On the other hand, the Trump administration has been blaming the rise of COVID cases on increased testing.

A third reason could simply be a lack of information. A lot of people might simply misunderstand what a potential threat COVID-19 can be. For example, when asked why people do not wear masks, people make comparisons of COVID to the flu, despite the two viruses being completely different. People lack the information and continually underestimate how serious the disease could be. A lot of people just blindly listen to what’s happening on television, without understanding the statistics and reasoning behind the decisions being made.

It is critically important that people continue to wear facemasks and social distance until the antibody or drug for COVID is discovered. If people attempt to resume a normal schedule right away, the number of infections for COVID will begin to grow exponentially again. While you may find a facemask uncomfortable or difficult to breathe with, remember that the virus primarily affects older people. While you might prefer to not wear a mask, others might prefer to live.