Letter-to-the-editor: Wearing masks is not absurd

Posted 12/17/20

To the Editor:

A recent letter to the editor claimed that, until we distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing masks is absurd and not effective. He quotes a June New York Times article which …

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Letter-to-the-editor: Wearing masks is not absurd

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To the Editor:

A recent letter to the editor claimed that, until we distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing masks is absurd and not effective. He quotes a June New York Times article which apparently says even close-to-N95 masks are not that useful. I suspect he is a consumer of all the lies, misinformation and downplaying of the virus from Donald Trump and his administration.

First, I have a New York Times online subscription and, after much searching, cannot find that June source. But I did find these related Times articles:

• SCIENCE - 10/30/20: Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How

• 4/5/20: What’s the Best Material for a Mask?

• 4/10/20: A User’s Guide to Face Masks

• 4/21/20: Can You Make a Mask?

Fact: COVID-19 is mostly transmitted via droplets from one infected person’s mouth and nose contacting another person. You can be asymptomatic and still infect others. If you don’t believe masks (and social distancing, hand washing, testing and tracing of course — all meaning competent government leadership and a cooperative citizenry) are not what allows countries like New Zealand, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Vietnam to do so well with COVID-19, please let us know their secret. For example, Vietnam has an 800-mile border with China, 95 million people and 35 COVID-19 deaths.

The U.S. is losing more than 3,000 people a day now to COVID-19, and health care workers and facilities, including ICUs, are being stretched to the breaking point — so we need to do everything possible to prevent infections in the first place. We are approaching the point where our very sick relatives and friends will literally not be able to be in a hospital and have to die at home. The writer’s comparison to people dying from pneumonia is a false one — when has this country been so overwhelmed with pneumonia cases?

The vast majority of expert doctors and scientists strongly recommend masks. To the extent some masks and some methods aren’t as effective — instead of protesting mask requirements, let’s learn about and use the best materials and wearing methods.

In addition, we don’t really know what even a mild infection with few or no symptoms will mean for potential future illness (think of chicken pox and shingles), and maybe not being able to get certain life or long-term care insurances due to COVID-19 being a pre-existing condition. Or health insurance if Republicans succeed in getting the Supreme Court to remove the ACA provision that pre-existing conditions cannot be used to deny coverage.

I agree wearing masks is a pain (and give credit to the writer for wearing his anyhow); we are all suffering COVID-19 fatigue, and restrictions on especially smaller business due to COVID-19 are really negatively affecting the economy. Many people have lost jobs and can’t pay for everyday necessities, and opening schools has been difficult as well. But ironically, many of the same folks complaining about the above do not wear masks or socially distance, and therefore help cause more restrictions to be necessary for a longer time period to save lives!

Unfortunately, Donald Trump has refused, and is refusing, to set a positive example of following his own health experts’ recommendations, which will be a big part of his legacy.

Let’s accept the shared inconvenience of masks and other proven methods to prevent disease spread for the benefit of all until a vaccine is fully available and received by almost everyone.

Bert Bowe


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