Should the US have a national mask mandate?


Courtesy of Time Magazine

A mother and son wear masks while sitting in a bus.

Throughout the past weeks, cases of COVID-19 have risen exponentially around the US. The spike in cases and deaths has caused more of a demand for a national mask mandate. As I sat down with Doctor Anne Gordon of Cooper Pediatrics, we discussed the spread of the coronavirus and the importance of masks. She believes that a mask mandate could be a great way to create better mask habits. She said, “I think, unfortunately, it’s probably the only thing that would motivate people to wear masks.”

While this may be a simple solution, it is easier said than done. Dr. Gordon compared a mask mandate to bicycle helmet laws. While there are laws in New Jersey stating that all riders 16 and younger must wear a helmet, many times kids and teenagers choose not to wear them. Not only that, but very rarely are kids reported or stopped by police for not wearing helmets. Similarly, many people may not enforce the mask mandate as intended, which would defeat the purpose. Dr. Gordon stressed the importance of masks saying “I think it is one of the best ways to minimize the spread of germs. Plus it is inexpensive”. However, wearing a mask does not eliminate the chance of contracting COVID-19. Many factors go into the effectiveness of masks. Dr. Gordon said, “It depends on the type of mask, and how well people wear the mask”. Even if you wear a cloth mask around someone with COVID-19, you are still considered exposed.

Dr. Gordon said that you should not go inside a building without a mask unless you are in your own home. Dr. Gordon also said, “One of the main reasons that cases are rising is because of large gatherings inside buildings without masks or social distancing, such as Halloween parties.” Parties are not the only potential causes for the recent increase in COVID-19 cases as many doctors believe that colder weather could be affecting the virus similar to the flu. In addition, because of the lower temperatures, it is harder for people to do things outside, creating more indoor gatherings.

Even with masks, there are still risks with sending children back to school. Dr. Gordon said “There is always a risk, but you can minimize it by social distancing and wearing masks.” The bottom line is that the school would have to look way different. No eating indoors, no large congregations, etc. Dr. Gordon also said that indoor sports without masks should be canceled.

She said, “I don’t believe there should be any indoor activities without masks”. Unfortunately, this includes sports like basketball which require a lot of high-intensity cardiovascular exercises, which would only harm the players if you added masks on top of that.

Along with sports, Dr. Gordon said that there should be no indoor dining at restaurants. Unfortunately, this would hurt many restaurants, especially with the cold months ahead. But, the bottom line is that there is no way to keep indoor dining safe. In these uncertain times, the safety and health of the people are most important. Unfortunately, cases are still rising along with deaths due to COVID-19, and there are simple solutions to ameliorate this problem. JUST WEAR A MASK AND SOCIAL DISTANCE! Whether or not we end up with a national mask mandate is up to the government, but regardless, everyone has to do their part in stopping the spread of the virus.