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Anti-maskers have found a new way to put everyone in danger

Published Jul 17th, 2020 7:06PM EDT
Coronavirus Face Masks
Image: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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  • Coronavirus face mask protestors are employing new tactics to comply with local requirements that mandate the use of face covers indoors.
  • Anti-maskers are using face masks made of materials that don’t offer any protection against the coronavirus droplets and aerosols that might circulate freely in the air.
  • To the dismay of doctors, face mask protestors wrongly claim that face mask mandates are about compliance, not safety.

It’s mid-July 2020, and you’d think everyone should have mastered the simple techniques and behaviors that can increase one’s safety and reduce the risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus by now. Social distancing, frequent hand washing, and face masks are the three things you can do to limit the spread. Once you’ve retrained yourself to adhering to these principles at all times, you’ve reduced your chances of being infected. The added benefit is that you’re less likely to infect others. And on top of lowering COVID-19 spread, you’d actually reduce the spread of other infectious diseases that aren’t as dangerous.

But in mid-July 2020, we’re witnessing an unexpected wave of protests against one of these measures. People have come up with all sorts of reasons to avoid face masks. Some wrongly claim that face masks can reduce oxygenation. Others see them as a political weapon to control the masses. That’s also wrong.

Some communities and businesses are making face masks mandatory, which is a step in the right direction. Those who won’t respect the rules will face the consequences, from fines to refusal of service. So anti-maskers have found an incredibly dumb and irresponsible way to circumvent the new rules and put everyone in danger.

There is no cure for COVID-19. That’s the primary reason why it’s so dangerous. The people who are especially vulnerable experience severe complications that can lead to death, despite not suffering from other medical conditions.

Face masks can’t offer 100% protection against any pathogen, let alone the novel coronavirus that spreads so quickly from person to person in indoor settings. But they can reduce the risk of transmission by blocking the droplets you expel when you talk, cough, or sneeze. The protection goes both ways. The wearer is also protected from particles floating in the air, the COVID-19 virus included.

Face mask protestors are now using face masks that do not offer any protection. These masks are made of mesh, yarn or lace, 13WTHR reports. These can’t protect against the microscopic droplets or the aerosols that contain the virus.

“I wore a mask that is designed for protecting your face in a paintball battle. You can easily breathe through it. I walked all around the store, talked to employees, and other shoppers, and every one of them could see my mouth,” a Florida man said. Florida is now the epicenter of America’s COVID-19 outbreak, registering thousands of cases each day, well above the highs of March and April.

“It was almost like not wearing a mask at all. Nobody cared. That’s because it’s not about safety. It’s all about compliance,” he said after wearing the mesh mask in a Tampa Walmart.

It’s absolutely not about compliance. Those state officials who impose face mask mandates, as well as stores and businesses, could soon require users to wear only surgical masks or N95s when indoors. Or prevent people whose mouths and noses are still clearly visible while wearing a mask from being able to enter buildings.

Sadly, people are willing to profit from the catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes by selling unsafe face masks. “Make your own Anti Mask!” says a seller about a face mask pattern for anti-maskers, per 13 News. “Stylish, breathable, and don’t protect you from a darn thing! Masks required? No problem! Breath free while making a statement.”

Such masks will not protect you or others against infection. Doctors unsurprisingly agree that face masks are useful during the pandemic.

“Masks absolutely work. They’re not perfect. They’re not the only measure you need to take to keep this virus under control, but they’re very effective, and they’re very simple,” Dr. Christopher Belcher told the TV station. Belcher serves as Ascension St. Vincent Hospital’s infection prevention medical director. “The most important thing they do is if you’re coughing, sneezing, singing, they contain all of those little droplets of saliva or mucus that come out of your nose and mouth, and keep them right there from spreading to other people.”

A different doctor earlier this week conducted a simple experiment that shows face masks do not prevent you from breathing normally. Other scientists have tested several cloth masks to find what materials can protect better against droplets and aerosol transmission.

Wearing a face mask is the responsible sacrifice you can do to protect yourself and others even if you think it’s all about compliance. It’s not. It’s about safety.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.