Masks: From Protection to Politics


In the midst of a pandemic, Americans are simultaneously battling a political phenomenon that has the power to influence the 2020 election. Masks have become the new topic of discussion with the blue, the red and everyone in between. Illustration by Nitya Shah

Nitya Shah and Adriana Rodriguez

It’s a mask. It’s a piece of fabric held by two strings. It is a form of protection in this battle against the virus that has affected all of us in some way, shape or form. It is the easiest way to win this clash against COVID-19. Simply put, it’s just a mask.


Yet, among all of these characteristics, it has also become political. This straight-forward piece of cloth has led to much dispute among the citizens of this nation, specifically. But when did selflessness become so contentious?


The conflict in question is about what the individual values more: public safety or personal liberty. Many people may feel the decision is quite simple: in order to fight against this pandemic, we have to come together and ensure we are thinking of more than just oneself. Others may disagree, considering the mandating of masks would only violate one’s rights. 


Eventually, political leaders began advocating for one side or the other and a pattern was quite evident. More left leaning political figures usually enforce citizens to wear a mask when in close proximity with other people, while more right leaning officeholders believe masks symbolize restriction of freedom.


From the very moment COVID-19 entered the United States, President Trump has hardly acknowledged the virus’s impact and consistently ignores the thousands of Americans falling victim to its lethality each and every day. 


Ironically, he has recently shifted his attitude in the months approaching the 2020 election, wearing masks in some of his encounters with the press. In these public appearances, Trump is finally sending a message that emphasizes the true value and impact wearing a mask can contribute against coronavirus. 


Yet, these actions are long overdue and do not compensate for his trivial attitude towards the virus in its early stages, when it was at most preventable. 


Although they may be politically charged, the bottom line is that they work. They prevent those around you from contracting the virus. Now is not the time to listen to politicians, but to health officials, scientists and others who are much more educated on COVID-19 — and you’ll never guess what they have to say: 


Wear. A. Mask.