Opinion: Masks should be mandatory in public


Emma O'Connor

Many refuse to wear masks in public despite the clear benefits.

In spite of almost two hundred thousand recorded deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. at the time of writing, people are still refusing to wear masks in public.

Only six months ago, I would’ve never guessed that every time I left my house, I’d always have to have a mask on hand. That after walking down the street to start my run, I’d need to turn around because I realized I had forgotten my mask. Unfortunately, that’s our new reality, and we need to accept it. 

There never even should’ve been a debate in the first place. It’s simple; people need to wear face coverings when in public to stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks are not political; they’re a form of protection.

Currently, only 34 states and the District of Columbia have mandates for wearing face masks in public. Even with these mandates in place, people are still walking around without face masks, only putting them on when required by businesses.

We don’t have to look very hard to see why we should be wearing masks whenever we’re in public. This past week the five states with the greatest increase of new COVID-19 cases were Alabama, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa. Three of those five states have no facemask requirements in public, and of the two that do, Alabama and Kansas, most of Kansas’ counties are opting out of the facemask order. 

Everyone should be wearing masks regardless of whether there’s a mandate in place. However, even with a mandate, all you have to do is go to the nearest shopping center to see people without masks. 

Masks have been proven to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and yet some people are still refusing to wear them in public places. Wearing masks only when required to by stores defeats the purpose of the masks when you’re still out in public and unable to social distance.

People who don’t wear masks seem to have the same mentality as people who think they could never be the ones to get into an accident while driving under the influence. It’s important to consider not only the dangers we expose ourselves to by not wearing a mask in public but the consequences of exposing other people as well. If it isn’t enough to want to protect yourself from COVID-19, think about everyone who isn’t lucky enough to have a good enough immune system to fight off the virus. We owe it to them to do the bare minimum and always wear a mask in public.

Just like you don’t wear a shirt and shoes only when required to by restaurants, you shouldn’t only wear a mask when required to by stores.

We need to accept that for now, as masks are the new dress code.