The Continued Mask Controversy


Written by Teah Sargent, Robbie Showers, and Ryan Wrigh

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many national safety precautions in order to prevent further spreading of the virus. One of the most highly debated topics regarding nationwide safety has been the requirement of wearing masks and the regulations that follow. As many people go about their day wearing a mask, some believe that a mask isn’t as crucial.

In early March, the country began to shut down due to the rapid spreading of the COVID-19 virus. As businesses and schools closed, the country enforced social distancing and masks to prevent the spread. Masks of all styles and builds sold out as more people partook in an effort to prevent the spread. “I generally use a pink and blue cloth mask,” says Woodgrove High School senior Julia Hubbuch. “I feel masks at this point in time are vital to ensure this country’s fight against the COVID-19,” says Hubbuch.

The assertion that masks are effective has been one of the most prominently scrutinized claims made by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling through the air. These respiratory droplets spread when one sneezes, coughs, raises their voice, and talks,” says the CDC. While the government has tended to back this statement, a large sum of the public still don’t believe that masks are as effective as the CDC advertises. Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend, MD. backs the CDC’s claim by saying, “The coronavirus is transmitted mainly through droplets coming out of an infected person’s mouth or nose. The face-covering traps that droplet so it cannot be breathed in by another person close by.” 

A study was conducted using high-speed video that discovered hundreds of droplets were generated when saying a simple phrase, such as hello, with some spreading from 20 to 500 micrometers in distance from the speaker. The study further revealed that nearly all of the droplets were blocked by simply covering one’s mouth with a dampened wash cloth. When questioned on the effectiveness of masks, Inova health director Dr. Goodfriend says, “Actually, they have been shown to be particularly effective in reducing transmission of COVID-19, as many people are infectious but may be asymptomatic, and the transmission of coronavirus is very susceptible to being caught in the weave of a face covering.” 

The debate over the importance of masks has been an ongoing dilemma throughout the pandemic. In politics, discussions of a national mask mandate have been underway. Recently, many businesses have placed mask and social distancing requirements in order to create a safe environment for their clients as well as to prevent the spread of the virus. Other individuals oppose the idea of wearing a mask because they believe they are experiencing an infringement of personal rights and that the mask material does not filter out virus particles. Sophomore Jacob Sawyer says, “Depending on the place, I can sway either way, however for most places, no, I don’t think it should be mandatory. The only place I can think of that is a yes, is the hospital.” 

Over the past several months, multiple videos have surfaced online showcasing confrontations between business employees and anti-maskers, many of whom state their reasoning for not wearing a mask being that it is a violation of their freedom as a U.S. citizen. In addition, several mask mandates conspiracy theories have developed, such as the claim that masks are being utilized by the government to control the population. The conflict only furthers as businesses enforce the new mask policies.

As businesses begin to reopen, new policies and changes have been made to ensure customers can safely shop despite the virus. The mask policy has been one of the most widely enforced changes brought about by business owners. Masks have resulted in complications with communication and business functionality, however, that doesn’t undermine how important business owners feel they are. When asked if she would continue to require face masks, even if it wasn’t mandated, Heidi Katz, the owner of the small business Beautyscope, says, “Yes, absolutely, 100%.” The owner of the small business, Refresh and Refine, Linda Hutchins comments, “I try to respect how others feel about it.” 

Though most businesses have made policy changes to include masks, some don’t fully understand or agree with the requirement. When asked whether or not masks make communication harder, Linda Hutchins says, “Yes, I can’t hear as well, and I hate them.” Many business owners remain undecided whether or not masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Katz says, “Well let me put it this way, I pray they do. I feel like the CDC and the FDA have basically supported the use of the mask, and say that they are, at this point, even more effective than the vaccine is going to be, so yes, I hope that they are.”