The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear face masks in public spaces to help reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. But some people have been refusing the idea of facial coverings despite the threat of COVID-19.
Face masks mainly help prevent the spread of the virus from people who may have been infected but do not show symptoms of COVID-19. However, misinformation, politics, beliefs and fear have been pushing some residents of San Antonio away from using facial coverings.
ABC-affiliated TV station KSAT recently asked its viewers about the reasons why they don’t wear masks in public. Below are the most common responses explained by health experts:
Existing Health Conditions
Ruth Berggren, of UT Health San Antonio, said some people are unable to use face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic because of health concerns. In San Antonio, authorities allow residents not to cover their faces all the time if they have asthma, autism, sensory processing difficulties and mental health challenges.
Conflicting Information or Confusion
Psychologist Eboney Jackson said other people refuse to wear facial coverings because of previous reports that claimed face masks are only necessary for frontline workers and those at high risk of infection.
“Initially, when this thing started happening, we were told that masks are really for people who are sick,” Jackson told KSAT. “And that’s to keep you from getting other people sick, and that it wasn’t necessary for us to all wear masks. ‘Save the masks for the health care workers,’ and now it’s, ‘Everybody needs to wear a mask.’”
Some Are “Highly Political”
Some Americans believe mask requirements are against their Constitutional rights. Jackson said people have a “sense of entitlement” that makes them think they have the right to do whatever they want in the country.
“But that’s not true. You can’t go to the store without shoes. You can’t go to the store without a shirt on. So this is kind of the same thing,” Jackson explained.
Aside from exercising their rights, people refuse to wear face masks because of their faith in their religious leader. Jackson said this coping mechanism occurs as they want to “whole heartedly put their trust in God or whomever that higher power is they believe in.”
Having a facial covering can be bad for some people experiencing anxiety. Jackson said that is because it can be hard to breathe with a face mask, which could make people feel “more contained,” especially those affected by forced isolation under lockdown measures.
The last reason that people don’t use masks is that they believe the majority of the population must be infected to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. That is possible but it will take a long and risky process to achieve.
Scientists said herd immunity would occur when 80 percent to 90 percent of the world’s population would have to become infected with COVID-19 and recover. However, it would also lead to a large number of deaths.