Wearing a mask is one of the easiest things a person can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The reason: Masks block particles exhaled by the wearer, which can prevent asymptomatic transmission of the virus in public areas.
Although masks were initially hard to come by, it’s much easier to find them in stores and online. Plus, with the knowledge that even cloth masks can be effective at slowing the spread, you can even make them yourself at home. Tap or click here to see how you can create your own fabric mask.
After seeing their effectiveness, many public officials have gone on to make masks mandatory in hard-hit areas. But there are a number of people who aren’t fully comfortable wearing masks in public. To comply with rules without going against their own principles, they’re wearing hole-filled masks that defeat the entire purpose of wearing them.
Mesh masks: Better than nothing at all?
Are you familiar with “anti masks?” They’re a growing product category tailored towards people who aren’t comfortable with mask regulations but don’t want to be barred from public spaces.
Designed to fit over the face like an ordinary medical mask, anti masks are often porous or made of mesh materials similar to hairnets and crocheted blankets. They’re a reaction to the increasing number of areas that now require masks, and a sizable number of people are using them as a form of protest to what they see as overreach from health officials.
Speaking to WTHR News Indiana, a Florida resident said that he wore a mask designed for protecting the face during paintball games. “You can easily breathe through it. I walked all around the store, talked to employees, and other shoppers, and every one of them could see my mouth,” he stated, before adding that the rules aren’t about safety but “compliance.”
If you wear a mask with holes, you aren’t actually protecting yourself or anyone else. Virus particles can still enter through the holes. It’s really no different than wearing a see-through T-shirt. You’re making a statement, for sure, but at what cost?
Why the fuss over masks?
There are a number of intersecting reasons why some people are uncomfortable with mask-wearing. Some believe it’s a violation of deeply-held freedoms. Others claim that masks make it difficult for them to breathe.
There are also people who believe wearing masks can make them sicker by forcing them to “re-inhale” germs. This concept has been a popular theory on social media since at least April and has been debunked by science. Tap or click here to see more about the conspiracy video that helped this theory spread.
Misinformation isn’t only limited to the anti-mask crowd. Many people who openly support mask-wearing believe that masks can protect them from acquiring the virus in the first place. This isn’t 100% true, either. Mask can reduce the number of particles you inhale from your environment, but they’re better at keeping germs in than out.
So why wear masks at all, then? Well, the issue has more to do with protecting others than protecting yourself. It’s best to imagine masks like a barricade or wall that keeps viruses from leaving your body and pouring into others. Without these “walls,” viruses can circulate openly from person to person.
Because of its long incubation period, not everyone knows when they’re infected with COVID-19. Wearing a mask operates under the assumption that anyone can be carrying the virus, which is why wearing a mask helps turn each potential host into a dead-end for the virus’ spread.
In truth, there is hard scientific evidence for the effectiveness of masks in epidemic situations. In fact, it’s often cited as a reason for the slowdown of the original SARS virus outbreak in Asia back in 2002.
Since then, community mask-wearing is still commonplace in countries like Japan during cold and flu seasons. And because the practice is so common each year, Japan was able to flatten its COVID-19 curve and reduce infections without ever shutting its economy down. Mask wearing actually works.
But at the very least, the mesh masks aren’t quite as “in-your-face” as the phony mask exemption cards circulating on Facebook. Tap or click here to see why these cards aren’t actually legit.