(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Downtown Magnets High School

Opinion: Keep wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 variants

Can masks save humanity?

Pretty much everyone in the world is familiar with the dreaded Covid-19 virus, as it has been the cause of the death of roughly 600,000 Americans and completely shut down the world. There have been many steps taken to combat the spread of the dreaded virus, such as social distancing and closing down public spaces.

However, one controversial form of preventing the spread of the coronavirus has been mask-wearing. Our former President Trump did not even support mask-wearing, worsening the situation by not releasing a federal mandate to enforce mask-wearing.

Instead, Trump left the decision-making to the states, which caused controversy among the people, as they complained about why their rules were not like other states. This is part of what influenced people to argue that mask-wearing could be harmful and even deadly. That, however, is only true to a number of the population, and in reality, wearing masks has been proven to be perfectly safe.

Our current President Biden has made strides to enforce mask-wearing, releasing an executive order that would require Federal Employees, Contractors, Buildings and Lands, to comply with CDC guidelines, which included mask-wearing.

However, as shown by multistate.us, numerous states still do not have any mask mandates, such as Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and more.

We must wear masks as they are effective in controlling the spread of the virus and can help protect the lives of not only you but your family and everyone in your community. It is especially important that we start wearing masks as more deadly and contagious variants of Covid-19 start to enter the US.

Even though vaccines are beginning to come out to the public and even show effectiveness with teens, it is still important that we students continue to wear masks, as we are likely among the final group to receive the vaccine.

Masks have been known to be effective in controlling the spread of the virus, as they have been used by health professionals during surgery and certain health care to prevent the spread of microorganisms from the wearer’s nose and mouth. According to the CDC, the multi-layer cloth masks “block the release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment,” as well microorganisms these particles have. 

When we go out, we are constantly spreading and intaking microorganisms, when we do something simple as just talk. This puts us at high risk for contracting the coronavirus.

However, if we all were to wear masks the risk of contracting Covid-19 would be lowered significantly as we are protecting ourselves and others from both intaking and spreading Covid-19. In addition, the CDC determined that cloth mask materials are able to reduce the wearer’s exposure to infection because of filtration. This information reinforces the importance of mask-wearing as it leaves us much less vulnerable to contracting the virus.

The importance of mask-wearing has also increased with the dangers of new coronavirus variants. According to statistics from the CDC, currently, there have been three different variants reported in the US, with 21,865 people in the US who have tested positive for these variants currently. These variants can be more contagious and even more lethal than Covid-19.

Therefore, it is important to wear masks as it can help us not only decrease our chances of contracting the virus but can also help decrease others’ chances. Even though there are millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, we can not let our guard down.

According to NBC News, there are concerns that other strains can emerge that can escape protection from the vaccine, if the virus continues to spread widely.

We still need to follow social distancing rules, and this includes wearing our masks, so we can prevent Covid from spreading and mutating into deadlier and more contagious variants.  

It is very important that we students wear our masks as some of us are still too young to receive the vaccine. According to an article from Connecticut Children, children’s immune systems are very different from adults, and their immune responses can be different at different ages, from infancy through the teenage years.

So, the research that’s been done on the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 and up needs to be repeated in children of younger ages. We must continue to wear masks because even though we don’t have a particularly high risk for severe illness. We put the people around us in danger of contracting the virus and possibly put them at risk for severe illness. 

There are different reasons why people have refused to wear masks. Researchers have found that people tend to refuse to wear masks, influenced by their spiritual and religious values. Much of the debate against masks has become politicized as has been shown during Trump’s presidency.

Former President Trump had the biggest influence on people’s refusal to wear masks, as Trump had the biggest platform being the Former President of the United States, using the media to spread false information on mask-wearing. According to the New York Times, Trump spent months playing down the effectiveness of masks.

This led to a lot of Trump supporters not wearing masks. There has also been a refusal to wear masks due to religious and spiritual beliefs. Some anti-maskers argued it violated their religious rights to be forced to wear a mask. In May 2020, Republican Ohio Rep. Nino Vitale even publicly rejected mask-wearing because he said covering one’s face dishonors God. 

Vitale’s view is echoed by some individual faith leaders as churches create requirements that congregants wearing masks. On the other hand, media-savvy pastors have even put anti-mask posts on Facebook with millions of views.

We need to re-educate these people, especially those with influence such as religious leaders, as wearing masks does not harm their religious beliefs, but instead benefits their congregation, as wearing masks has been proven to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and will help when they have a religious gathering.

Now that we have a new presidency, the political climate has changed, and mask-wearing is being more heavily enforced. An example of this is that mask-wearing has been implemented as a safety protocol for students and teachers re-entering school.

If we keep repeating the message to wear masks and continue to re-educate people based on proven medical and scientific information we can change people’s attitudes and perspectives towards the importance of mask-wearing.

Masks have been proven to be effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19. New variants of Covid-19 make it more essential for us to wear our masks as they can be more deadly and contagious.

It is important that we students wear our masks as there is still research that must be done to see if the vaccines are safe for us. Many people’s views on mask-wearing have been affected by their political and religious beliefs, but if we can re-educate them with proper evidence we can change their perspective on mask-wearing.

We must wear masks in order to protect not only ourselves but our family, friends and community.