As the pandemic continues and businesses begin to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear face masks in public. However, only 36 states have required masks with the occasional exception of children. The lack of mask mandates is dangerous and every state must make them mandatory to flatten the curve and protect citizens.
Masks are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. One study conducted by Health Affairs compared “before” and “after” effects of mask mandates in 15 states. After three weeks, the daily cases dropped by 2%. Masks clearly help contain the virus and a nationwide order protects the nation’s collective health by reducing the risk of spreading and lowering the number of cases.
Social distancing and good hygiene, while both essential, are not enough to contain the virus. Society needs to continue, businesses and stores must reopen, and a form of normality is necessary for our economy to function. Standing roughly six feet away from others will not stop respiratory droplets from infecting someone. Since people have already violated social distancing rules by gathering in large crowds, masks would help lower the risks of spreading and allow society to function while awaiting a vaccine.
COVID-19—although it leaves the elderly and those with underlying health issues more susceptible—harms every demographic. There is a misconception that most people will fully recover. However, some infected people developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, a condition where fluid builds up in the air sacs of one’s lungs and often results in death. If everyone complied with mask-wearing, infection rates would drop dramatically.
Despite the simplicity and effectiveness of mask mandates, some view it as a violation of freedom. Citizens cannot have freedom if they do not have safety first, and it is selfish to think that one’s autonomy is more important than everyone’s overall safety. When people refuse to wear masks, they are putting society at risk of an economic collapse and a public health crisis. The government must act for the greater good of the people, instead of avoiding the wrath of selfish citizens who view orders as a freedom violation.
All states must enforce mandatory masks if they want the curve to flatten. Masks are effective in preventing spread and are a simple solution to the chaos of the pandemic. Until a nationwide mandate is issued, the pandemic will continue and the effects will only be more devastating.