With all the craziness of 2020, Covid-19 has affected us the most. Leaving school for Spring Break and not coming back until the next school year was a huge shock to all Kansas students. While we still want the school to remain in person, the Southeast of Saline School Board has mandated new rules we have to follow in order to attend school. The most important rule is that we all must wear masks all day. Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs on this topic whether they are anti-mask or pro-mask. Some believe that masks don’t prevent Covid-19 since there are still cases increasing daily, but others believe that it can stop the spread and protect us from going back to remote/online school. Kylar Dewhirst and Nicole Neff share their opinions on whether masks are effective or pointless.
Masks are Effective.
Everyone wants life to go back to normal. Everyone wants their football games. Everyone wants to have parties. Everyone wants to go to concerts. Too many people are sitting back and saying “it will go away after the election,” or “it will leave eventually,” but the issue is we are just sitting and doing nothing. Not wearing a mask is not only putting you in danger, but it’s also affecting everyone around you. You have no idea how weak or strong someone’s immune system is. Just because you are seemingly a healthy person, it doesn’t mean you can’t be affected. Research from Euro Surveill showed that 17.9% of positive cases showed no symptoms. Wearing a mask can help the cases, especially from asymptomatic ones, decrease and help us get back to the normal we all want. Obviously, it isn’t a “law” that you absolutely have to wear a mask, but I believe that wearing a mask is protecting yourself and others around you.
The CDC, also known as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is a group of highly educated medical professionals who protect America from health threats that can occur, like the Corona Virus. The CDC says that a mask is the best way right now to prevent the spread of Covid-19. CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield argues, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” The CDC is the best information outlet for us to learn about this virus and what precautions we should take.
Just like when you cough, you cover your mouth. Masks are similar to that but are a much bigger step for reducing the risk of spreading. Masks create a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling to other surfaces or faces around you. An argument I’ve heard is that masks can cause carbon dioxide buildup and can cause you to get sick, but according to the University of Maryland Medical System, as long as your mask is fitted correctly (over both your nose and mouth), there is enough airflow and accumulation of CO2 is not possible. The CDC says that if 95% of people wore masks today, we could prevent 33,000 deaths in just a few months. Obviously, wearing a mask doesn’t make you immune to Covid-19, but it does reduce the risk. Masks are the closest thing, besides everyone being quarantined, to a cure we have right now.
Laboratory studies of respiratory droplets and masks show that countries that had stricter masks rules had lower death rates. The places with small numbers of cases/deaths, such as Greenland, had very strict stay-at-home and masks rules. According to Visitgreenland, one of Greenland’s top tourist sites, no one was allowed to go to work or to other people’s houses. If they absolutely have to leave their house for necessities, such as groceries, they must have a mask on. Greenland only had 14 cases and 0 deaths. Another place that had strict rules was Taiwan. With a population of 24 million, they only had 509 cases and 7 deaths. All buildings checked your temperature and would not let you enter without a mask. If someone was caught in public without a mask or breaking quarantine, they would be fined. Taiwan and Greenland have some of the lowest cases in the world because of their strict rules. It’s clear that when masks were required, people listened to their government and the cases were very low. I think that we should make masks required because according to the CDC and simply how things are playing out in other countries, masks and strict rules work.
An argument a lot of young adults use is that it only affects babies and the elderly. According to uscf.edu, one in three young adults may face severe cases. Just because you are young, doesn’t mean you can’t be greatly affected. According to WebMD, 20% of deaths in America were ages 20-44 years old. Patients aged 20-44 years appeared to be at higher risk for hospitalization and ICU admission, according to the data published March 18 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Another argument I hear is that we are all overexaggerating about how deadly this is and that it’s just like influenza. Although the symptoms are very similar, the severity is much different. Covid-19 is much more infectious and deadly compared to the flu. Research done by Dr. Jeremy Samual Faust showed that in a week in April 2020, the reported deaths from the flu were 750 (during a “peak week” where it’s the highest number of flu cases) and reported deaths from Covid was 15,000. During 1918 with the Spanish Flu, it was a huge deal because no doctors or scientists knew what it did to the immune system, how it spread, or how it can damage the body. Now, with the Spanish Flu 100 years in the past, we know a lot more about it. Just like the flu in 1918, we are not educated enough to fully understand everything within the virus. The reason why we don’t act this way with the flu is that we are much more informed with the virus. There is the annual flu shot you can get and you can take medicine if you get influenza. In some minor cases, it can just seem like the flu, but it has a much bigger impact on the population.
I can agree that masks can be sometimes annoying. Breathing in them can be somewhat difficult and having something on your face all day can irritate your skin, but it doesn’t actually hurt anyone. Others will disagree with me, but I don’t think it’s as bad as some make it out to be. I got used to having it on for long periods of time fairly quickly. I know that I am protecting myself and others from possibly contracting Covid-19. Even if research comes out a few months from now saying that masks aren’t as protective as we think they are, it’s not really a big inconvenience. I would much rather be safe than sorry. It isn’t just going to “go back to normal” if we as a society don’t work together and deal with the (very) minor inconvenience of wearing a mask to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Kylar Dewhirst, Opinion Editor
Masks are Pointless.
Working as a CNA this last year, I have learned quite a bit about how to stay healthy and how we get sick. With this background knowledge, I am on the side of not wearing a mask. This may surprise you being that I work in healthcare, but let me tell you why.
Our body is trained to get rid of what you breathe out and filter what comes in. With a mask, the air you breathe out is the same air you just inhaled, EW! Not only is that gross, but it is also slowly making everyone very sick. The process of breathing includes inhaling oxygen (O) and breathing out Carbon dioxide (CO2). According to the Mayo Clinic, breathing in your own CO2 causes the water in your lungs to dissolve. The carbon dioxide goes through the alveolar-capillary membrane and into the bloodstream. Once the carbon dioxide enters the bloodstream, blood then becomes acidic and lowers the blood Ph levels. In simpler form, this is not good. This alone will make you very sick because the water in your lungs can lead to many things including pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and even heart problems.
Do you change or wash your mask every day? I bet not. Lots of people wear their masks two or three times before changing them. Think about this: would you lick a sucker after it sat somewhere for three days. That’s just gross, right? Well, it’s the same scenario with your mask, especially with kids. People wear their mask all day long and when they talk or get a drink we all know our mask gets wet throughout the day. Well, your mask gets wet the same way your sucker gets wet by your mouth. The germs that would be attracted to you
r sucker after three days would also be on your mask. Well wearing your mask that your air is filtered through works the same way.
Another reason I believe that you should not have to wear a mask is because of the medical field’s demand for masks. Working in healthcare, you would think that we would have to use proper PPE, but due to the high demand, we can’t get them. We use fabric masks due to the fact that we can’t get surgical masks. Now it is not as big of an issue, but when Covid first hit you couldn’t find them anywhere and they were super expensive. Now the demand isn’t as high due to
the companies being able to produce masks faster, but people still have to wear them every day. The demand for masks is still high.
The next reason why I think we should be wearing masks is that for no other virus we have worn masks. The flu kills many people every year, just like Covid-19. The flu virus first hit it killed millions because we didn’t have anything to help stop it, like the vaccine we have today. Even though they didn’t have a vaccine they still didn’t wear masks. They washed their hands and kept up good hygiene, just like we should be doing for Covid. Eventually, we will have a vaccine for the Coronavirus too and you can get that as you wish, but just like the flu, it would prevent you from getting it. The vaccine is just there to put anti-bodies into your body to help fight off the virus “if” you contract it. You will most likely still get sick, your symptoms just won’t be as severe. So a mask is not going to do much for you.
Lastly, when wearing a mask you can’t breathe in some of the bad bacteria that help build your immune system to be able to fight off illnesses you may contract. So this fall, when the flu and colds start going around if you get one of these you are going to struggle worse than you would if you didn’t wear a mask. The Covid numbers are going to rise back up again once we lose the masks because now everyone’s immune system isn’t going to be working as well and will contract whatever is in the air.
These are just a few reasons I believe that wearing masks is only going to make us sicker than if we were to contract covid-19. I understand that many people die from Covid-19, but we must also consider how many have also survived it and what health conditions those who died had before contracting the virus. Wearing a mask may slow down the rate or the number of people who get it, but those that don’t get Covid are now more susceptible to other viruses, even the ones worse than Covid-19. Many of us hope that this will all pass and be over with soon, but I am fearful that what is going to happen after we have worn masks for months will be much worse than Covid-19.
Nicole Neff, Photo Editor
We also asked The Southeast of Saline High School student body about their opinions on masks. We asked if they would consider themselves pro-mask or anti-mask and the results were about 50/50. Here are some of their responses:
“The mask are not effective because we so close together in hallways we touch each other and I will admit they keep most bacteria in a small area we touch so much stuff that theres bound to be someone who gets it everyday and with how symtoms sometimes dont show at all it’s impossible to really know who is infected and I really like to breathe “NORMALLY” without the mask!” – Freshman Alexander Christensen
“I believe it can help prevent the spread of corona and also makes people realise how serious this is. It also pushes people to be safer and cleaner, because the sooner this all ends the sooner we can take off the masks.” – Senior Andrew Knight
“Here’s the thing I am in the middle. I am not all for masks or all against masks but here is what I know. Masks are effective in a sense, but they are only effective if the mask is properly maintained. And I know that the majority of my classmates dont get a new mask everyday or clean their mask from the day before to wear for the coming day. It would be like licking a piece of candy, laying it on the ground for a day and then eating it the following day. Its disgusting. Imagine how much bacteria grows on that mask in one day, and then multiply that by at least 5 days. That is horrible and its not helping anyone if you wear a mask that isn’t clean. Masks are effective, but they need to be clean in order for them to be effective.” – Senior Bree Issacson
“Yes but no because i think that it helps from not spreading it but people always find a way to sneak a breath or just not wearing it right so it dosent really make a difference.” -Freshman Chrisopher Davis
“No I believe we should just do a long quarantine, I dont see how well stop this virus unless we cut all leaving of homes.” – Junior Treyton Sutton
“Researchers say that they are effective so why shouldn’t we believe them. Even if they’re wrong and masks don’t work the worst that’s happened is that I’ve been slightly inconvenienced but If they are right I could be saving lives.” – Sophomore Mara Mondt