With over 4 million cases and counting, the United States is now the biggest coronavirus hotspot in the world, yet almost half of the states still lack statewide mask mandates.
This is partially due to those who believe that a mask mandate is a violation of their rights, a form of government control and an uncomfortable inconvenience.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is evident that masks are a public health necessity, and should not be waived in the face of false information and personal preference.
In response to the primary argument against wearing masks, the government does not violate any constitutional rights by forcing citizens to wear masks. In fact, state governments are constitutionally allowed to require their residents to wear masks.
John E. Finn, professor emeritus of Government at
Wesleyan University wrote in an article for The Conversation that under “police power” authority, every government has the legal right to make necessary laws.
The Tenth Amendment dictates that all states have rights and powers that aren’t specifically granted to the federal government, which has long been upheld by the Supreme Court, and state governments can invoke this police power to enforce necessary laws concerning public health, safety and welfare. This means that law is on the side of mask requirements.
Research also supports enforcing mask-wearing laws, as masks have been proven to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19, saving lives. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that because masks contain their wearers’ respiratory droplets, they prevent the spread of disease-causing germs living in said droplets.
One such example of this was in a Missouri salon where a hairstylist was diagnosed with COVID-19. Todd C. Frankel of the Washington Post, wrote that the stylist was symptomatic while working multiple shifts but was wearing a mask.
After her diagnosis, health officials tracked down her clients using the salon’s electronic reservation system and tested 46 of them for COVID-19. They all tested negative, proving that masks have the potential to contain the spread of disease.
There was a similar incident on a flight from Wuhan, China to Canada. A man with a cough tested positive for the virus on the flight, so the 25 passengers within a two-meter radius with him on the flight and the other personnel he interacted with were tested for COVID-19. They all tested negative, most likely due to the cloth mask he was wearing.
In addition to these case studies, a study by Health Affairs beginning March 31 noted a decline in COVID-19 growth rates after mask mandates were enforced in multiple states between April 5 and May 15. The daily COVID-19 growth rates dropped by a rate of up to two percentage points per five days by the end of May 22, further reinforcing the fact that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Regardless of research supporting masks and the disproving of false claims against masks, the fact also stands that in areas where mask-wearing has been enforced by the government, individuals can only be legally exempted when the mask interferes with their day-to-day activities due to a mental or physical disability.
This includes children younger than two, people who are unable to remove their masks without assistance and those with preexisting breathing issues. It does not, however, include people who feel that the mask is the cause of their respiratory difficulties. In short, anyone refusing to wear a mask in states that mandate them, save for those legally two exempt categories, is defying the government.
It should be plain to see that masks are not and were never intended to be a form of government oppression or a complicated ploy to see how much freedom citizens are willing to relinquish. They are simply a form of sanitary protection and prevention to promote the general welfare and should be treated as such.