Why Mask Wearing is Necessary

Face masks are incredibly important to wear during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet people are choosing not to wear them.


Thanya Sriselvakumar and Sudiksha Peramanu have a conversation after a tennis match, wearing face masks to keep each other safe. (Photo by Maia AlBarrak)

Caden Moe, Opinion Editor

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Every day, thousands of new COVID-19 cases pop up around the world. So why do so many people choose to ignore the best and most basic defense we have at our disposal? Wear a face mask. In fact, many have done worse than ignoring the defense and gone so far as to protest against it. As it stands, however, there are no valid arguments against COVID masks.

To be clear, face masks are extremely effective at protecting against the coronavirus. Experiments conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that saying simple phrases, such as “Stay healthy,” generates hundreds of droplets from a person’s mouth at various distances; further, in these studies, it was also shown that simple wash clothes can block most of the droplets generated. Since face masks are made out of similar materials to wash clothes, they are similarly effective at preventing the spread of this airborne virus. 

A lot of anti-maskers have made the argument that they don’t care if they catch the virus or not, so there would be no reason for them to wear the mask. Simply put, while the mask does protect its wearer, its main purpose is preventing the spread of the virus to other people. It does so quite effectively, too. Studies of the coronavirus across all 198 countries shows that countries with more strictly enforced mask policies have overall lower COVID-19 death rates.

Others argue that it is hard to breathe while wearing a mask, but this is completely untrue. There is a very simple explanation as to why doctors, especially surgeons, have been wearing masks for hours, or entire days on end, years before the coronavirus outbreak, and they have always been perfectly fine. 

Most people’s objections to wearing masks can be boiled down to finding it uncomfortable or not liking being forced to wear one. But the fact of the matter is that a single person’s comfort is much less important than the lives of everybody around them.

COVID-19 is a threat to everybody. It is not necessarily deadly to most people, but it is still more than just a bad cold. Even after recovery, COVID-19 has lasting effects on the lungs and heart, and even the brain. Some people have even reportedly suffered from memory loss and hallucinations after recovering.

So it is crucial to wear a mask, pulled up over your mouth and nose, in public while the pandemic is ongoing. There should be absolutely no exceptions to this. Even if you have no symptoms, this does not mean you cannot spread the virus, as it can take several days for symptoms to start showing up, or you can carry the virus while being asymptomatic. The sooner we start wearing the masks, the sooner we can stop wearing the masks.