Opinion: To Mask or Not To Mask?


Grace Mulroy, Freelancer

Since late 2019, COVID-19 has ravaged our towns, killed our loved ones, and squashed hopes to have a social life. New York State has taken COVID restrictions very seriously, however, Governor Kathy Hochul has now eliminated all mask and vaccine limits in indoor spaces. While pandemic restrictions are a crucial weapon against the army of COVID-19 variants (such as Delta and Omicron), many hope that the decrease of restrictions will help restore a sense of normalcy in the city and other neighboring towns. 

Still, many others feel as if they are being stripped of what makes them feel safe, leaving us to ask is this really the time to let go of our safety blanket, what will happen once the mask mandate is gone, and what should we do? 

New York State has had less than 35 per 100,000 cases this week compared to having over 382 per 100,000 cases during January. However, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor for COVID-19, is cautiously optimistic about lifting these protocols, relaying the following: “We could be heading toward what we would consider more normality, But the situation is still unpredictable, any transition out of the current crisis would be gradual.” 

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consciously remarked “while my agency is working on new guidance for the states, it is too soon for all Americans to take off their masks in indoor public places. Our hospitalizations are still high, our death rates are still high, So, as we work toward that and as we are encouraged by the current trends, we are not there yet.”

Additionally, much of Europe tried to drop the mask mandate, and in the eyes of some, it’s not going well. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization cautioned, “It’s premature for any country either to surrender or to declare victory.” It’s obvious that many of our leaders and health professionals believe that it isn’t the right time to remove the masks, so why do we persist? Many of those opposed to mask mandates believe that masks hinder their freedoms as Americans. Amy, a 48-year-old mother of two from Ohio, was initially afraid of COVID-19 and its effects. However, as the restrictions became stricter, Amy became more restless. “It’s a violation of my freedom, I think, and then also I just don’t think they work. A lot of stuff says it does, but then some doesn’t.” 

Despite what many say, it has been proven time and again that if you wear a mask, you are less likely to contract and spread COVID-19. Why would you risk your life over a piece of fabric? 

All this information leads to mixed conclusions. As previously stated, many professionals say that it could be a good thing to let go of masks. Others disagree. So what should we do?

As COVID-19 cases begin to decrease in volume, we need to be careful about how we handle lifting mask mandates. If we rush into lifting mask mandates, we risk flinging ourselves right back to square one. In my opinion, we also need to require being vaccinated against COVID-19. Mask mandates were put in place to protect us as a society; the mask mandate being lifted implies that we don’t have to truly fear getting sick from COVID-19 anymore. If we lift both mask and vaccine mandates, people are going to start getting seriously ill once again.

COVID-19 has been a war with casualties in the millions. The idea of lifting mask mandates makes many people shudder with fears of quarantine, disease, and skepticism whether our public officials truly have our interests at heart. However, if we are careful about lifting mask mandates and require vaccines against COVID-19, we will all live to see the end of this horrendous war. But for now, we must keep fighting.