2020 will most certainly go down as one of the most historic years in this century. Humanity’s limits have been pushed to the absolute limit — both mentally and physically. Hallucinatory natural events, monumental political movements and gut-wrenching public deaths are simply a few of the pensive recallings that have highlighted this chaotic year. However, the catastrophic coronavirus has easily created the most destructive tendencies of our limits. It has forced mankind to adapt in a completely new way, signifying a driving force in each individual it affects.
The COVID-19 pandemic originally arose in Wuhan, China, rapidly spreading throughout the world at an alarming rate. The first case hit the United States on Jan. 21, 2020, and cases swiftly covered the country soon after. Its sudden rise has brought a new, distorted reality to the world that we once knew. In-person interactions have been put on pause. We are disconnected from others physically more than we have ever been. Yet, even with the astonishing technology that exists today, it is still nearly impossible to completely remove all in-person interaction.
In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of others, the usage of masks and face coverings has exploded. Masks have been institutionalized across the nation, with many mandates either encouraging or requiring the wearing of one. Businesses and schools have been able to reopen in-person with the requirements, and signs across the nation encourage the general public to wear them as well.
As commonplace as the usage of face coverings seems these days, it is significant to note the controversy that follows close behind. The recent election brought prominent strife to the public’s eye. Individuals have been attributing the wearing of masks to political gain in the ideals of both political parties and their advancements.
Government officials in both the national and state level have supported face coverings since their introduction, and each party takes care of donning them. However, individuals across the nation see these mandates and officials as exerting unnecessary control. Masks have become politicized. The simple truth? They shouldn’t be.
Along with frequent hand washing and social distancing, face coverings offer an additional preventive measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. The benefits behind wearing one can be easily found by simply searching online. Multiple studies across the United States have shown that masks significantly reduce the spread of respiratory droplets that can travel from the mouth or nose. Masks not only protect the individual wearing one from potential viruses, but they additionally remove the possibility of spreading unknown illness. In the middle of a global pandemic, safety is and should be prioritized. The face covering mandates that are present are not here to ensure the victory of one party or the other — they are simply here to keep us all safe.
Although uncomfortable, face coverings provide an opportunity for a tad bit of normalcy in the craziness that surrounds us. In addition to the protection that they offer, masks have been largely supported and encouraged by the influencer world.
Athletes, musicians and actors adamantly raise awareness for the habit by donning their face coverings in public. A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, LeBron James and Future are just a few of the many celebrities in the public eye that support the cause. Television and award shows have been recently moved to virtual production, yet celebrities like Billie Eilish still strive to incorporate masks into their red carpet attire. TikTok has seen an increase in popularity over the course of this year, and its stars like Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio heavily emphasize face coverings and their importance. It is quite prevalent that, in addition to their protection, masks have become a fashion statement all on their own.
The encouragement that celebrities put forth is only one step in the complicated process of action. Although masks are so clearly encouraged and mandated, political strife is coherently present. It takes a firm grip on something that is supposed to unite us in a time of trouble.
Our era of history highlights the animosity that exists between individuals. Government officials are not trying to further separate us; they are trying to ensure our country’s safety. A simple piece of fabric and a positive mindset is all it takes to make sure that the future holds something brighter than our current reality.
Generations after us will reflect on the year 2020 as a monumental time. We are surrounded by a constant stream of negativity; yet, there is a simple kindness that lies underneath the hatred.
Wearing a mask demonstrates a uniform goal of creating a better future. It ensures we can all jump around in Camp Randall Stadium, complain about classes in the residence halls, or simply be together once again.
Stay positive. Test negative. Mask up.