Anti-Mask Protesters Cause Backlash Over Anti-Science Stance

Julia Grenoble, Reporter

While health experts from all around the world are encouraging people to wear a mask in public settings, many people are pushing back to express their individual rights and beliefs.

Pictured is a N95 mask. The “95” stands for the rating of the mask meaning 95% of airborne particulates are filtered. (ehpien/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It is important that people understand the science behind the masks, to comprehend why they are so important. Most scientists say that the N95 is one of the most effective masks to prevent spreading the virus. According to Live Science, the N95, when sealed tightly to the face, can filter out 95% of particles. If someone has the virus and is wearing a mask, the chances of spreading the virus drop drastically.

However, there are many citizens that refuse to follow the recommendation of wearing a mask from the CDC and the US government. In many grocery stores and restaurants, people without masks are not allowed in. While some citizens believe that the requirement of a mask is a violation of their individual rights, others simply feel uncomfortable or anxious due to pre-existing health conditions. There have been complaints made by many people with asthma or other breathing conditions, who feel that wearing a mask would affect the quality of their breathing, and it could cause fear and panic.

With all of the recent regulations and recommendations made by the US Government, many people are starting to see parallels to the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak in regards to the government’s push for universal mask wearing. During that pandemic, The US General Surgeon advised everyone to make and wear a mask for themselves.  According to BBC News, It was up to state and local governments to require their populations to do it, but all did. Some cities fined those not wearing a mask in a public setting. 

The anti-mask and anti-quarantine protests are part of a larger trend of anti-science politics.  Despite warnings and research about a number of dangers, including climate change and coronavirus, many politicians, especially Republican lawmakers, have rejected the science.  This position is especially confusing as Republicans consider themselves pro-business lawmakers and “half the economic growth since World War II can be traced to innovations in science and technology,” according to Sean Lawrence Otto writing for Scientific American.

Lt. Cmdr. Nevin Yazici demonstrates how to properly fit an N95 respiratory protective device aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort in New York harbor on March 31, 2020. The N95 mask or any mask must fit tightly against the face to offer protection. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/CC BY 2.0)

“…much of the Republican Party has adopted an authoritarian approach that demands ideological conformity, even when contradicted by scientific evidence, and ostracizes those who do not conform,” write Otto.

Masks are helping millions of people avoid the coronavirus, and while it may be causing controversy, it is one of the safest things that citizens can be doing to help slow the spread. These masks do not only protect the person wearing it, but they also help to protect everyone around them. Simply wearing a mask could be saving hundreds of lives, without even knowing it.