In response to Joshua Heide’s Letter to the editor “Why Require Masks?” (June 10), I will try to help him understand his apparent confusion about the use of face masks and his “deep state” anxieties about complying.
1. The current and latest guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are - the general public should wear cloth masks made from at least three layers of fabric “on public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments.”
It also says people age 60 or older or with preexisting conditions should wear medical masks in areas where there’s community transmission of the coronavirus and physical distancing is impossible, and that all workers in clinical settings should wear medical masks in areas with widespread transmission.
A growing number of doctors, scientists, and public health experts have been calling for universal masking in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces. In other words, we need to embrace the idea that wearing a mask is one of the easiest ways to stop transmission and we may be doing so for a while.
2. Historically, Asians have been much better about this. In 1910-11 Chinese, Russian, Mongolian, and Japanese scientists came together to combat the outbreak of the bubonic plague in Manchuria; face masks were deemed effective. Both Chinese and Japanese swiftly re-adopted using face masks during the 1918-19 flu pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Asia has dealt with ongoing outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and other transmittable diseases including flu epidemics 1957/58, 1968/69, 2009/10. Their governments mandated social distancing and widespread use of face masks.
Today in Asia, you will find widespread use of face masks even when there is not a pandemic. In Vietnam where motor scooters are the norm, you find almost everyone using face masks against the dusty conditions of the roadways. You will find the same response in major cities where there is unrestrained industrial air pollution. Their use has become accepted and normal.
During the 1918 flu pandemic, California was an early adopter of social distancing and the use of face masks to reduce transmission. In fact, citizens in San Francisco were fined $5 (equal to $95 in 2020) if they were caught in public without masks and charged with disturbing the peace. These early approaches worked then and they are just as effective today.
3. Unfortunately too many Americans today share an attitude that this is a “free” nation and they are entitled to do whatever they want. They seem oblivious to what is proper and responsible behavior toward others.
Followers of this president are inclined to challenge the leadership of state governments who are trying to protect their citizens. This is a president who tells them they are victims of science, health experts, democrats, Antifa, a free press, the “deep state” and he refuses to wear a face mask himself.
We see this uniformly across Republican-dominated states and now they are suffering for it. Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and other conservative states are seeing a swift infection rate where they refused to implement what health experts recommended.
If you don’t want to stay inside (most don’t) and you insist on connecting with others, then you need to be extra careful in how you go about it. The least constraining and costly is a cloth face mask. For the next six months, this needs to become a standard part of our civil uniform.
Experts are now predicting an increase to 145,000 dead by the first week in August. Others are stating we will probably lose over 200,000 by the end of 2020. We have the highest loss of life in the world. China has held its total deaths to less than 5,000, so which nation has done a better job at protecting the lives of its citizens?
The president has essentially disbanded the Coronavirus Task Force after we passed 50,000 American dead; he doesn’t like bad news and has since declared a great victory over the disease.
Meanwhile, our very stable genius, who has an obsession with packed, adoring, chanting crowds has moved the Republican convention to Florida since North Carolina insists on masks and appropriate social distancing. I doubt you will find anyone there wearing a face mask. What a catastrophe in the making.
This is a deadly pandemic, Joshua, and you need to do your civil best to not get infected or infect others. That’s why you need to use a face mask and listen to the experts about this disease.
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