I Hate Them As Much As Anybody, But We Need to Keep Masks

This+sign+in+front+of+Yorba+Linda+reminding+students+to+mask+up+%E2%80%93+will+be+removed+after+March+11.%0A

Chase Kim

This sign in front of Yorba Linda reminding students to mask up – will be removed after March 11.

Chase Kim, Photojournalist

With still more COVID cases, now is not the time to let masks be a thing of the past.”

— Derek Moore

Recently, Governor Newsom announced that schools in California would drop the mask mandate after March 11 – releasing the command that had been in place for the entire school year. Especially here at YLHS, the announcement was met with a general positive consensus that it would mean increased freedom of choice. 

While I certainly don’t mean to detract from the importance of choice, I’m not sure that this decision should be receiving the praise that it has – it only poses greater risks for little benefit. As Derek Moore (9) said, “With still more COVID cases, now is not the time to let masks be a thing of the past.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

Cases have dramatically increased from, say, this December, but they’re still extremely prevalent. In the US, the 7-day average is still around 60,000 cases. While it’s easy to brush off this number since it pales in comparison to prior numbers, that’s still around the population of Yorba Linda – and it’s still more than double the numbers that began the lockdown in the first place. 

We must look at this 60,000 number through a lens that is unskewed by past events since we’ve been largely desensitized to disease by now. This is a dangerous virus, and one that spreads quickly. If somebody told you in 2019 that we’d have 60,000 cases of a new disease – and yet the government had just removed important precautions against it, you would think the government was crazy!

All to say – we simply need to wait longer before making rash decisions based on a temporary drop in cases.

Additionally, what benefit are we really receiving from removing the mask mandate? I’d be the first to admit that they’re far from comfortable – but keeping a mask on is important for protection of self and others. Sacrificing health for a slight discomfort hardly seems reasonable. In fact, it seems selfish.

And again – I understand where the opposers of mask mandates come from with restrictions of freedom. However, by the very same logic, any law restricts freedom. You could say it is “mandated” to have a driver’s license in order to drive, but doing so ensures the safety of both the driver and others on the road. While differences can surely be found between a mandate for masks and for driver’s licenses, I see no fundamental difference between the two in this regard. Some restrictions are simply necessary. Thus, the argument that the mask mandate encroaches on the freedom of the American people holds no water when we consider the role of the government. 

Before continuing, I’d just like to emphasize that I understand the points that those concerned about the mask mandates make. In fact, I long for the day that we can safely get rid of the mask – I just believe that it’s far too early to do so. I’ll keep going.

Finally, the health risks of COVID-19 are substantial. I say risks specifically since it is correct that contracting the virus is similar to that of just a common cold. However, the long term effects of COVID-19 are still widely unknown – presenting another variable into the situation that dramatically increases risks.

I’m sure that many of you – when I was talking about the 60,000 cases – were thinking about how the virus has only mild effects, which makes the 60,000 number seem really worse than it is. The truth is – I agree with this, at least right now.

Assuming that none of you reading this are immunocompromised or are at an age of risk, then it is a fact that you will likely not die from COVID-19. In fact, you’ll probably walk out completely unscathed – I’ve had friends brag about getting the virus three or four times. However, let’s look into the future.

Do you know that this virus will not have detrimental long-term effects?

In short, no. This is simply because the virus hasn’t existed for long enough to even begin research on this. But – research does exist based on the information available to us now that suggests contracting COVID will result in brain shrinkage and issues regarding infertility. For me, the prospect of either is enough to make me mask.

I want this pandemic to end as much as everybody, and I’m scared that releasing the mandate will only perpetuate our current situation. 

It is clear that mask-wearing is good practice. The benefits of getting rid of the mask mandates are slim, but the repercussions could be huge. 

Listen.

I don’t want to wear a mask, either. Nobody does. But – getting rid of the mask mandate entirely at this time is not a reasonable answer. 

I guess only time will tell, though.