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Published: August, 2020; Vol 17, Num 3

 

Wearing a Face Mask Isn’t Too Big a Sacrifice

LIUNA General
President
Terry O'Sullivan

Current best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 continue to be fairly simple – wash your hands, stay six feet apart and wear a face mask. The evidence is clear that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and health experts agree that more people wearing masks is better for all of us. Still, many Americans are struggling with the idea of wearing a mask.

“Wearing a face covering is more than a common courtesy to others. It’s also a way to save lives and keep construction projects and other critical parts of our economy running smoothly,” says LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “We encourage all LIUNA members to follow your state or local recommendations and wear a face covering.”

There are many possible reasons why mask wearing hasn’t been widespread across the U.S. like it has been in many other countries. Face coverings can be uncomfortable or inconvenient and they don’t look cool. Some people believe they won’t get sick because they are young and/or healthy. Others feel being forced to wear a mask infringes on their constitutional rights.

Some people may view wearing a mask or face covering as a sacrifice. That may be true, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. Throughout our history, Americans have been asked to make sacrifices for the greater good of the country. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this about sacrifice:

“But there is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States ... is in action, and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. ... Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure during the war and after the war.”

During WWII, sacrifice was considered a common good for the war effort, and it affected every American household. A comparison can be made to our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus until we have a vaccine. More Americans choosing to sacrifice comfort, convenience or their own personal preferences for the greater good will result in more lives being saved and an economy that recovers more quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions on Face Coverings

Some have blamed the lack of mask wearing on inconsistent messaging from the CDC and White House in the early days of the virus. We hope this FAQ section clears up any ongoing confusion for readers.

What does the CDC say about face coverings?

The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and around people who don’t live in their household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The CDC recommends covering both your nose and mouth when wearing a face covering.

Why should I wear a face covering?

COVID-19 can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected. Wearing a cloth face covering helps protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come in close contact with others, such as in stores and restaurants.

Should kids wear a face covering?

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be worn by children younger than two years old. Older children can and should wear one.

Why should young, healthy adults still wear a face covering?

While many adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s may view themselves as healthy enough to recover from COVID-19, the concern is for those around them. As the recent spike in cases has shown, young, healthy adults are not immune to COVID-19 and can transmit the virus to others of all ages.

Is wearing (or not wearing) a face covering a political statement?

Although face coverings do seem to have become a partisan issue, they shouldn’t be. Face coverings protect everyone’s health, regardless of political affiliation. Prominent Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the political aisle are now wearing masks and advocating for widespread mask wearing. It’s important to remember that the enemy is the virus, not each other. A face mask is not about politics, but about health and safety.

Why has the guidance on face masks changed since the pandemic started?

Scientists have learned more about the virus, leading public health recommendations to change. This new information gave us more reasons why widespread mask wearing is important:

Wearing a cloth face covering is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The bottom line is that any mask that covers the nose and mouth will provide some benefit.

[Jamie Becker is the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion.]