The questions about whether or not a mask is necessary has just had a major thumb out on the scale of answers. The virus won when it comes to President Trump. After flouting the rules that his own medical experts spouted, the President has succumbed to COVID-19. So have many others in the White House.
Expect a different battle going forward. Perhaps a bit of humility and more of a sense of danger. On the other hand, there may be more of an effort by the no-face-masks side to provide compelling reasons for personal freedom.
‘The likely outcome’: Trump’s COVID diagnosis followed waning precautions at the White House
Let’s face it. The White House let its guard down. Or, perhaps, the White House during the last days of the election had more events than could be controlled. That control is what allowed the President to flout the normal rules. Instead of saying wear a mask, maintain distance, wash your hands, leadership ignored the virus as a nuisance, not a disease.
Just three weeks ago, Trump ridiculed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a mask so often, saying, “If I were a psychiatrist, right, you know I’d say: ‘This guy’s got some big issues.'”
At a presidential debate Tuesday night, two days before Trump announced his positive test, he did it again.
Frequent testing isn’t enough, said Michael Ben-Aderet, an infectious disease physician and associate director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The White House should be “setting an example” through “good infectious control policy,” he said.
“A lot of essential workers have been able to protect themselves, and I see the president as another essential worker,” he said.
The coming mask mandates debate is continuing — NPR reports that masks help
After an initial period of uncertainty, the medical field came down firmly on the side of face masks. They urged a national face-mask mandate. The personal freedom groups maintained that we should only wear masks if we think they will do good. Well, the President’s illness has shown that masks do work at some levels. Or, that ignoring them is only done at your peril.
“I personally think that face masks are a key component of the non-pharmaceutical arsenal we have to combat COVID-19,” says Shaman.
It’s understandable if some people remain skeptical, since, at the beginning of the pandemic, public health officials in the U.S. said the general public didn’t need masks. But that changed as it became clear that infected people can spread the coronavirus before they even show symptoms of COVID-19 or even if they never show symptoms.
Researchers emphasize there are two main reasons to wear masks. There’s some evidence of protection for the wearer, but the stronger evidence is that masks protect others from catching an infection from the person wearing the mask. And infected people can spread the virus just by talking.
Coercive coming mask mandates by governments are not needed
The no-face-masks side of the arguments have been vocal. Plus, regionally, there are major differences between whether or not the population wears face masks. Friends of mine who have traveled across the United States have reported dramatic changes in mask wearing from state to state. Plus, urban areas are far more concerned with social distancing and mask-wearing than rural districts.
Will there be a coming mask mandate? We have a long way to go. This is a debate that has raged since the days of the Spanish Flu more than 100 years ago. During the 1918 influenza pandemic, masks “…stoked political division.” Then, as now, medical authorities urged the wearing of masks to help slow the spread of disease.
Here is a 2020 collection of reasons not to wear face masks.
- Mandatory mask-wearing has no conclusive scientific basis for such an extreme mandated measure;
- OSHA strictly regulates mask-wearing in workplaces, imposing rigid protocols precisely because mask-wearing for prolonged periods has very real, identified dangers associated with such requirements;
- A false sense of security when near “at-risk” loved ones believe they are protected by their masks;
- One-quarter of one percent lethality is non-compelling justification for healthy people to wear masks to protect others when 99.75 percent of those who contract COVID will not perish and the majority of those who will die from COVID have comorbidity complications;
- A perverse policy that threatens psychological damage from a constant manufactured message of fear of others, and of the environment, evidenced by an ever-masked population;
- A violation of each individual’s natural right to control his/her own body and the risks that accrue…
The mask debates will continue even with the President felled by the virus. Will this event be a positive or negative historic matter? So far, more modern medicine has not developed more compelling arguments for maintaining face coverings. Then again, neither has the no-face-masks side. Travelers United recommends that we follow the rules — wash your hands, wear masks, and maintain social distance. Don’t be stupid. Be reasonable and don’t gamble foolishly with your life.
Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 11 years with Congress, the Department of Transportation and industry stakeholders on travel issues. He was the first consumer representative to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections appointed by the Secretary of Transportation from 2012 through 2018.