Tibbs: For whose benefit?


Columnist Ashley Tibbs encourages others to wear the face masks for not themselves, but for the sake of others. 

Ashley Tibbs

Yes, you need to wear a mask.

Masks are essential to being able to safely reopen our economy. To go out and resume normal life — whatever that may look like — we need to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable citizens. We can’t forget that as the rest of the country tries to resume “normal,” there are many people who are still more vulnerable to the virus. Nearly 15 percent of Iowa’s population is over the age of 65, one of the highest in the nation. 

As more people go out and return to work, it’s important to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others: precautions like staying six feet apart as much as possible and wearing masks. 

Originally, guidelines for wearing masks were only for health care workers. This was an effort to preserve medical masks for those who needed them. However, this changed in April. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found evidence that a large number of positive COVID-19 cases are from people who are asymptomatic: they show no symptoms and likely don’t know they are sick. If we don’t know who is infected, the best thing to do is to wear a mask and practice social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. 

My family and I always wear our homemade masks when we go out, and I’m happy to see many other Iowans do the same. There are, of course, people who disagree with wearing masks and this column is not intended to shame them. No one can force you to wear one (aside from businesses or government), but I urge you to consider the reasons why they are necessary.

People should wear masks because they want to keep others safe. Remember, when other people wear masks, they are protecting you. You should consider showing them the same courtesy. I believe wearing a mask in public shows that you care about the people around you, that you care about keeping them safe and healthy. No, a mask won’t protect you from getting the virus, but it will protect others from you. 

I urge everyone to consider wearing one when you go places where it’s hard to stay six feet apart — such as a grocery store. Masks are really only effective at reducing the spread of the virus if a majority of people wear them. Yes, they are uncomfortable and inconvenient, but is your convenience and comfort more important than someone else’s health?

Ashley Tibbs, sophomore in agriculture and society and global resource systems.