Amid an airborne pandemic, some find wearing a mask pointless. Recently, these groups of people were seen marching through a Target in Fort Lauderdale, Florida blaring music and encouraging others to remove their masks. These mask protests are illogical in that they show a disregard for human life, the health and well-being of the population and challenge basic safety. 

Since the first cases of this respiratory virus became known, the majority of countries implemented a mask mandate, sparking frequent mask protests. In August, there was an anti-mask protest in Spain where people felt the virus was a hoax and “masks kill.” A few days later, there was a protest in Utah, where one likened wearing a mask to slain victim George Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe.” This level of ignorance will cause increased, devastating spread of the coronavirus, ultimately accelerating the death toll. 

Currently, there are 6.6 million confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, with 196,732 deaths. The United States is the leading country in confirmed cases and deaths. Protesting against regulatory guidance to wear a mask will only increase the number of positive cases and fatalities. The United States needs to correct its plan to combat the virus, which starts with dispelling anti-mask protests. The plan should streamline public health initiatives and communications to manage the virus’ spread. 

Proven by countless health authorities and organizations, masks do not affect oxygen levels. Masks are designed so people will be able to breathe easily, while reducing the spread of viral droplets. It is important to note that medical professionals wear masks as standard, everyday practice without qualms to perform their duties.

With a better understanding of the mode of transmission for this novel virus, wearing a mask is a duty and a sign of respect. Those who wear a mask show they value human life and understand that transmission is airborne. Those who wear a mask understand that they could have the virus, and want to reduce the spread. There is no visual way to know who is infected with the virus because so many people are asymptomatic. Wearing a mask is an acknowledgement of the deadly effects of the virus. 

Anti-mask protests disparage principled, legitimate protests across the country, such as fighting against animal cruelty, sexism, the systemic issue of police brutality against Black people and advocating for the redistribution of police funds to support other public programs, also known as defunding the police. Similar to the insensitive and irresponsible George Floyd comment, some protesters have also used the phrase “My body, my choice” to explain their rationale. In misrepresenting these meaningful, noteworthy phrases, anti-mask protests demean crucial and consequential movements that are innate rights.

The scientific arguments for the importance of wearing a mask protects others and the population. There are more significant issues and concerns the United States needs to address, and wearing a mask for basic human safety is not on the list. The “debate” for wearing a mask should have been settled once the type of transmission was discovered. Some compare the pandemic to a war; in maintaining this analogy, the United States has lost the battle and are losing the war. For the United States to be victorious and combat the rising infection rate of the coronavirus, masks are essential and must be worn.

Iana Fields is a sophomore studying English creative writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Iana? Tweet her @FieldsIana.