Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of states in the U.S. require mask-wearing in public places. Although many mask mandates have been lifted at this point, it is still strongly recommended by the CDC that people wear masks indoors in order to lower the transmission rates, and therefore death rates, associated with the coronavirus. With this in mind, wearing masks could become more normalized in day-to-day life post-pandemic.I definitely believe that they should be, especially during flu season.
If masks can aid us during a pandemic, we can also use them as a tool against more common viruses, such as the flu or common cold. Before the pandemic, wearing masks was common courtesy in East Asian countries when someone was even mildly ill. Thanks to this practice of already wearing masks, COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, for example, have remained low. This is because nearly everyone there wears masks in public areas, even without government instruction. According to one study cited in an article published by Huffpost in September 2020, in March of that year, 99 percent of a group of 1,000 participants reported wearing face masks when leaving their homes. This is a common practice that can easily be adopted without much effort in the United States. If wearing masks when sick can prevent others from becoming ill successfully in other countries, ours might as well take the extra step to benefit U.S. communities.
That being said, although I strongly believe that we should start wearing masks regularly when sick, even after the pandemic, I do not think it should be implemented as a law in the United States. As has been seen over the course of the pandemic, many citizens have reacted poorly towards the mask mandates, arguing against mask wearing and in some cases refusing to wear them because they see them as a restriction of personal freedom. This is a lazy and highly flawed argument, but it is something to consider when proposing a continuation of mask wearing in the future. If people refuse to wear a mask during a global pandemic, it is doubtful they will want to after it is over. Despite this, I do think the CDC should continue to strongly recommend those that are sick to wear masks in public.
Despite my push for masks in the future, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and our primary focus should be lowering the numbers of COVID-19. We cannot continue wearing masks after the pandemic if the pandemic has yet to end. By continuing to wear masks and getting vaccinated, we can lower COVID-19 rates significantly in the United States. When we finally get out of this ongoing pandemic, we should carry on wearing masks to protect ourselves and others from not only COVID-19, but the flu, common cold and other infectious diseases.