OPINION: Don’t be ignorant — wear a damn mask in public


Ashton Byers

An employee hands out a mask at Sacramento State on March 12.

Jordan Parker

On June 18, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state mandate requiring all people to wear masks when in public and when social distancing isn’t possible.

The decision is the right one as the loosening of stay-at-home orders has convinced our population that we’re back to normal.

NEWS FLASH: We’re not!

California COVID-19 case numbers shattered records this past week: hospitalizations increased by 32%, ICU patients increased by 19%, and the governor said that 25% of the state’s coronavirus infections have happened in the past week. Last Tuesday was the worst day, when the state tallied a single day record of 7,149 new cases

The mandatory mask order sparked uproar, especially within the population of people who still believe that wearing a face mask is a political symbol. If you think wearing a mask is about Democrats vs. Republicans, you’re not only sorely mistaken but you’re flat out ignorant. Wearing a mask is about protecting yourself and the people around you from infection.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci often warned that we’d have to wear masks for some time in order to mitigate the spread, but still nobody is listening. This week’s forecast from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggested that 33,000 lives would be saved by October 1 if 95% of the population wore a face mask.

It’s been three months since people have known that face masks would become our new reality, but hundreds of people are still gathering without taking the precaution of wearing a face mask.

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It infuriates me to know that thousands of people don’t care about ending this pandemic. Selfishness is a disease that is hard to cure, and it’s so obvious right now as California cases continue to increase, especially in hotspots within the state such as Los Angeles County, the Bay Area and Mendocino County. 

I’ve heard all of the arguments against wearing a face mask, including that it causes your body to lose oxygen, it’s a “personal” decision and that the government can’t tell us what to do.

However, an article for the World Health Organization debunked the claim about face masks causing your body to lose oxygen, and said that wearing a face mask will not lead to carbon dioxide intoxication or oxygen deficiency. In fact, wearing a face mask has been proven to severely slow the spread of the virus.

A study conducted by scientists at Texas A&M found that face masks prevented over 66,000 cases in New York City between the period of April 17 to May 9. 

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Additionally, wearing a mask is not a personal decision. During this pandemic, each person has a moral responsibility to do the best we can to save the lives of those at risk and anyone in general. Take for example, my aunt who has asthma. When I go out in public with her to the grocery store or to get food, we both always wear a mask. However, the majority of people we’ve been around have not.

Because of those people, she becomes at even higher risk to contract COVID-19. It’s not her fault because she’s following the guidelines, but it’s the other inconsiderate people who think they’re above the law. Do people not realize that their actions can cause someone else’s death?

The most important reason people should wear the mask is because of the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers of the virus. It’s important because you may not know if you’re a carrier, and if you go out you can spread it to someone else, who can then spread it to other people.

The governor shouldn’t have to tweet out every day to remind people that face masks save lives, and the opposition to face masks has gone way farther than it should. The Department of Justice warned today that citizens have begun carrying around fake mask exemption cards which cite the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) as the reason they refuse to wear a mask. 

This is unacceptable. If people don’t understand the importance of wearing a mask in public, then they should just stay home. Going out in public without a mask is a health danger to all those around them. And if people continue to do so, thousands of more lives will needlessly be lost. What more do you people need?

We are at a breaking point in this pandemic. If cases continue to rise, face masks will be required for longer than any of us imagined. Just be responsible and think before you act. 

Next time you consider going out without a mask, ask yourself why you’re doing that. Ask yourself if your comfort is worth someone else’s life. And I pray that you will make the right decision.