With the novel coronavirus, masks have been a common sight on individuals outdoors to prevent them from spreading and contracting the virus. Especially in countries hard hit by COVID-19, citizens have either made a moral obligation to wear masks or were mandated to wear them in order to limit the spread.
However, in the most affected country, which is the United States (with over 2 million total reported cases as of mid-June), there has been a general resistance to wearing a face covering when compared to other countries. This problem in America most likely starts at the top with our president, Donald Trump, who downplayed the virus early on and has refused to wear a mask or social distance in public. Trump’s lack of concern for the virus has transferred down to the minds of citizens, many who have begun to believe that the virus was not a considerable deal in their lives. The president and federal government’s absence of attention and readiness towards battling the coronavirus early may be what caused the country to lead all other nations in coronavirus cases and deaths by such a wide margin.
The general resistance to face masks is partially due to the fact that when coronavirus cases first started to increase, and began overwhelming the healthcare system in the country, America’s lack of preparedness to battle the virus caused a shortage of tests and masks, since many were reserved for hospitals and healthcare workers. This led the government and leading health organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to insist that only those who showed symptoms or were ill should wear medical face masks and be tested in America, and this idea has continued to linger on today..
Countries that have shown progress towards “flattening the curve” have either mandated wearing masks early on or citizens have worn them out of respect and etiquette for others, such as in Germany, Italy, and South Korea, which avoided a lockdown with early preparations and a well planned out system to fight the virus. This shows that wearing a mask can limit the spread of the virus, and help control infection rates.
Even though masks may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, wearing them will prove to be beneficial to the country and certainly bring an end to these unprecedented times more quickly. Hopefully, the federal government can change the attitude that many Americans seem to have on the virus and wearing masks, which can begin by the president wearing one himself.
From viewing how other countries have battled the coronavirus and understanding other cultures where masks are worn and are effective, America and the rest of the world can come together to take this information and safely make an end to COVID-19 as efficiently as possible.
Jonathan Kim, Grade 8
Culver City Middle School