Are Masks Necessary

There is an aggressive debate going on whether cloth masks are necessary. Are they meant to protect you from getting the virus? COVID-19 spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks through respiratory droplets. These droplets land in the mouths or noses or get inhaled by others who are in the vicinity. Cloth face coverings are a simple barrier, preventing the spread of respiratory droplets. Rather than preventing you from inhaling these droplets, they stop you from unleashing them. Rather than protecting the wearer, they limit the risk of others around them.

People are opposing the idea of masks but why? From simple freedom to the thought that this is pandemic is a conspiracy and medical reasons to not wear a mask. People have been on sides like this in our past. Going back into the 20th century which was not that long ago we saw similar debate with the adoption of seat belts.

This video shows why masks, even cloth ones, will help slow the spread of infectious diseases.  While it’s not guaranteed that you won’t spread or catch COVID-19 by wearing a mask, it will help minimize the distance that the virus can travel.

Could the opposition of masks be the same as the history of seatbelts?

As cars became popular in this country, vehicular fatalities skyrocketed. The rate of auto-related deaths doubled from 1920 to 1960. Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%*. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to eject from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries*. Seatbelts were not offered as an option in most cars until the 1950s but most motorists declined. In 1968 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required seatbelts in all vehicles. Fewer than 15% of Americans said they used seat belts on a regular basis as late as 1983. One poll showed 65% of Americans opposed seat belt laws. States began adopting mandatory seat belt laws in 1984 and there was opposition. People argued that seat belts were uncomfortable, inconvenient, and ineffective.

They have proven to save lives and you do not see the fierce opposition any longer. Over time they have become accepted as a natural part of driving. Today over 90% of Americans buckle up on a regular basis. Will we have to accept wearing masks as a normal part of our lives? According to a recent poll conducted by Gallup, only 1/3 of Americans had claimed to wearing a mask outside of their homes. Now, many states and municipalities are making it mandatory to wear masks. Even major corporations are hopping on board and making it mandatory to wear masks.

The Data on Wearing a Mask

A model from the University of Washington had shocking data. It predicted that 33,000 more lives would survive by October if 95% of the population wore masks in public. Some cannot see us ever accepting wearing masks as a nation during this pandemic. I hope that is not true, we have been here before. In the words of George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Another poll from Gallup shows that 67% of women have worn masks outside of their homes, compared to 56% of men.  Is it a coincidence that 23% of men who have been tested were positive compared to 16% of women?

The Mask conclusion: What’s the harm?

We have been around the Nation helping companies recover from the coronavirus pandemic.  The one interesting fact that must be acknowledged is that those that do not believe in masks, seem to have more concentrated outbreaks.  There are so many different styles of masks out there, and at a minimum, they will protect those susceptible.  So, for the time being, let us put down our differences, and put on a mask.


* Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts: Children. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2010. Available at URL:

* Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts: Occupant Protection. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009. Available at URL: