Mask off

With the ever-increasing COVID-19 case numbers, many states are adopting a mask mandate, but should North Dakota?

Masks. Small, medium, large, blue, green or striped – by now, they are nothing new to the people of North Dakota. Up until now, the choice of wearing masks in public places has been optional – unless stated otherwise and depending on the place. The government, which has been persevering in its efforts to control the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, has recently been tossing around the idea of implementing a mask mandate on the state. But forcing people to do something has never aligned with the Americanized idea of freedom, so should it really be up for debate now?

The answer? Of that, no one can quite be certain, but they can at least express their opinions. Between the people wearing masks and those opting not to, it is clear that there is a division between communities. Considering the times, now especially is when people should be coming together, not splitting apart.

The government, on the other hand, is meant to represent the values of the people. Considering that the values in society are currently divided, it is understandable why there is debate over what is best for certain communities – enter the mask mandate.

The mask mandate, though it has its appeals, is not all it is cracked up to be. Between the speculated benefits and the varying opinions of the people, it is apparent that there are many flaws within the proposed idea.

For starters, many people are upset over the idea of being forced to wear something that inhibits their abilities to breathe and talk. This is usually refuted by the typical, “It is for the safety and protection of others. Just deal with it”. This is a valid claim, but people cannot be forced to care about other people. Why should someone care about a random stranger if it comes at the inconvenience of themselves? A selfish motive, perhaps, but a common thought nonetheless.

Another issue with the mask mandate is the factual evidence supporting it. Masks, though helpful in certain situations, are not perfect. There is no irrefutable evidence being held up by all certified medical professionals in the nation that supports the mandate. Masks work, sure, in some instances, but there is nothing that supports the call for statewide regulation.

Morals aside, the effectiveness and safety of masks has been disputed among many professionals. In an article published on the Loma Linda University Health website featuring research from Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of environmental microbiology, Ryan Sinclair, masks can be carriers for both bacteria and viruses when not properly disinfected. In addition to being a potential breeding ground for other respiratory infections, there is no denying that masks are also dirty and suffocating. Is it really a reasonable idea to force people to wear masks that could cause other problems, just to attempt to stop another?

Though it might work in other places, many North Dakotans feel it is their right to make the decision on wearing or not wearing a mask. The confidence that the citizens put in the government should be reflected back onto the community. ND residents, by being able to place their confidence in the elected government and have it returned, are still able to express the values they place on personal freedoms – and it should stay that way. People should be entrusted to make decisions for themselves.

There will always be people who will not want to wear a mask, but putting a mandate on the state is not going to change their minds. With no way to enforce it, the mask mandate is doing nothing more than simply repeating what has already been said. It can be announced all day long that people should be wearing masks for the safety of themselves and others, but at the end of the day, it should still remain their choice.