TL;DR – Wear masks!
As a fan of Korean dramas, I noticed a lot of the big stars would wear cloth masks in public. Are they trying not to be noticed?
I also noticed Asian tourists in Israel wearing masks. They aren’t trying to keep a low profile in public.
I found out that in Korea specifically, but also in other Asian countries, the pollution is so bad they include fine dust warnings in their weather reports. People wear masks on particularly bad days. Masks also are a layer of protection against sun damage – the tourists were often wearing big sun hats and UV protective sleeves on their arms. For this post, I also did a little research about mask wearing in Asia and found an article from 2014 about the culture of wearing masks in Asia. In short, if someone is ill, they will wear a mask to protect others. Apparently this has been part of the culture since the flu pandemic of 1918. Today, it’s a fashion statement.
Now we are in the middle of a pandemic that is not getting better. To update the numbers from last week: There are now 11.2 million cases – up 1.2 million since last week. Incidentally, May 27 was the first day there were more than 100,000 new cases and it’s been steadily going up to 200,000+ new cases every day. The death rate remains stable with 29,500 deaths this week putting the world on track to reach another 100,000 deaths within about 3 weeks.
Israel is officially in the second wave. We’ve doubled the new case rate this week with over 1,000 new cases reported in a single day. It’s directly tied to reopening and people ignoring warnings about how to reopen safely.
The best option for people is to not get exposed to the virus by staying home. That’s not a long term solution. So if we have to go out, we need to protect ourselves and others. That means masks.
My office sent this graphic.
A slightly more colorful comparison was making its way around Facebook.
Masks = Healthy society
I’ve been horrified by the public meltdowns in the US over wearing masks. I can’t understand how a matter of public health became a question of freedom.
I think one good example is smoking. A person is free to smoke as much as they want. That’s a choice they’ve made. Now that science has proven that second-hand smoke causes cancer and puts children in smoking households at a higher risk for respiratory illnesses like asthma, smokers may not like that they can no longer smoke in bars and other public places, but they tend to agree that they don’t have a right to blow smoke into people’s faces and potentially cause cancer or respiratory distress in other people.
What about speed limits and seatbelt laws? They are government-imposed laws for public safety. No one (that I know of) has tried to avoid paying the fines because they have a god-given right to pass other drivers like they’re standing still and smash through their own windshield when they slam on the breaks.
Now compound the danger by making smoking and bad driving contagious.
Yes, masks are uncomfortable. But surgeons and dentists haven’t thrown out sterilization procedures because they are uncomfortable. Coronavirus is also uncomfortable. Many of those who “recover” suffer as much as when they were sick and can’t return to normal life. That’s pretty uncomfortable. If an asymptomatic carrier turns into a super-spreader and people end up hospitalized or dead because they were near that person, that’s not comfortable for anyone.
Your freedom ends at my personal space. Wear a mask.