Will Face Masks Still be Used After the COVID-19 Pandemic?
An opinion piece that discusses whether or not the western world is moving towards the cultural shift of accepting masks into our daily wardrobes. Will we continue to wear masks farther in the future even after the COVID-19 virus becomes controllable?
The Use of Masks in the Eastern Asian Countries
In many Asian countries, masks have been a common part of culture and are worn by many individuals who show any type of symptom, far before the COVID-19 pandemic. If an individual had a cough, itchy throat, were commonly sneezing, or even just knowingly sick from only the common cold, it is the norm to wear a mask in public spaces if they had to go out. Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and many more, have been wearing masks during flu seasons and all during the year since long before this COVID-19 virus outbreak.
The Western Stigma Towards Masks is Changing
In the past, the wearing of masks carried a variety of stigmas. Some would consider those who were wearing masks or face coverings in public those who wanted to keep a type of anonymity while in public, which insinuated to those who are over cautious and wary that they may be wearing it to do something not morally acceptable. People also believe that whether it be the government or businesses, that asking individuals to put on masks while out in public becomes an infringement on their personal freedoms. It has never been normal or common in the past to wear masks, so many Americans were averse to the idea.
Months Into The Pandemic, Our Culture is Shifting Towards Mask Usage
Although many Americans using masks are those who have sewn the masks themselves from cloth which is not the safest type of mask to wear, more and more people are subscribing to the idea that masks will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Many retailers are now offering a wide variety of masks, the majority of them being cloth masks. Even non-clothing retailers like mattress companies and companies that make travel gear are all beginning to sell their own line of face masks.
With many states and cities across the country attempting to safely reopen up the country and the economy again, there is a general understanding from many Americans that masks are a necessary part of their everyday life now. Whether going out for groceries, errands, or even a safe place to eat outdoors, the culture of wearing masks in America is becoming much more common, even for those places that the government is not legally enforcing the use of masks.
It is so commonplace in Eastern Asian countries to wear masks on any given day of the year, because of their culture norms of coughing and sneezing in public to be impolite. Their common usage of masks is helping them decrease the spread of COVID-19, although because of many of these countries’ population densities, they certainly locked down many other regulations that also aided in their fight against the virus.
Many Americans may not prefer the use of masks when outdoors and in public, but the education provided by the CDC and other government resources are getting through to much of the public masses, making the use of masks in public to aid the public health fight against COVID-19 much easier. I am sure that even when we have made it through the pandemic that the use of masks in public by many individuals will still continue on and that this is a new shift in culture that we will observe as time passes after the battle with COVID-19.