Editors’ Debate: Are Masks Effective Against COVID?

Any Old Mask Will Not Do

Editors' Debate:  Are Masks Effective Against COVID?

Samantha Lewis, Opinion Editor

With the spread of COVID-19, more and more states are issuing mandates which require the wearing of face masks in public spaces. Many people are beginning to believe that face coverings do not even work and they are correct. The way people are using masks is not effective. 

Part of the problem is that  the mandates themselves– specifically, New Jersey’s — are very vague and simply say, “face covering,” with no specifications. This vagueness has led to various interpretations.

With one search on Amazon, there are tens of different styles of masks, from gaiters, cotton face coverings, to medical grade N95’s. 

But do all of these work?

The majority of face masks worn are not effective or protective against COVID-19 germs.  In a new study from Duke University in North Carolina, researchers concluded that fleece neck gaiters made from a polyester and spandex blend aren’t effective in blocking coronavirus droplets. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now says Americans should be wearing, “masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19,” according to their website.

People are also hesitant to follow the bandwagon of wearing masks because they are confused by what they are being told by officials. At first, people were told to wear cloth face coverings, so people started wearing neck gaiters to protect against the virus. 

Another reason why people are hesitant  is that they believe it is a violation of their right to a personal choice. The government should not be able to dictate what we wear.

Walking into a store, you would find half of the people wearing gaiters instead of proper N95 masks or cloth masks with three layers. You would also see people with their masks on, but only on their chin, with their nose and mouth uncovered. 

Not only are the various types of masks ineffective, people are simply not wearing their masks correctly, therefore making them ineffective. 

There are individuals who wear simply a face shield with no cloth covering, which is also not effective in protecting against the virus.

The unreliability of face shields was determined in  a recent Japanese study that found “…almost 100% of airborne droplets of less than 5 micrometres in size escaped through the kind of plastic visors often worn by people working in service industries,” as reported by an article in The Guardian. 

The CDC itself does not even have a clear understanding of their effectiveness. According to their website, “evaluation of mask and gaiter materials and structure is ongoing.”

Even if all Americans wore a mask, the virus will still spread. Until there is a vaccine, there won’t be anything close to going back to “normal”. 

For now, people should have the right to choose whether or not they wear one, because in reality, the way most people wear them is not effective. Even if masks do work, it’s only the medical grade N95s that will provide protection, not the homemade masks made from an old t-shirt.