Unmasking the Science

Mason Hagarty, Editorial Editor

Masks have become a controversial item over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some people have no problems wearing the protective gear as a precaution, others feel adamantly against having to wear what they consider to be restrictive and uncomfortable nuisances. As the number of COVID positive people begins to rise again thanks to the Delta variant, let’s unmask some of the arguments one by one.


“I can’t breathe when I wear a mask.” Some people believe that the fabric or paper that makes up the protective barrier restricts their ability to breathe fully. A study in the Annals of the American Thorasic Society published in October 2020 found that “gas”(oxygen and carbon dioxide) exchange is not significantly affected by the use of surgical mask, even in subjects with severe lung impairment.” The study went on to address those with existing breathing issues such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, noting that “we observed a small drop in oxygen pressure/tension in this group, expected based on their disease severity, but not a rise in Pco2 after walking.” In summary, the study found that the impact on regular breathing when wearing a mask was minimal. 


“My body, my choice.” For many, simply the idea that they are being forced to do something they don’t want to is reason enough to resist wearing a mask. Every day, as you get in a vehicle to go to school or to the mall, you put on a seat belt. Why? To protect your body. Another reason why you put on a seat belt is because the law states that. As pointed out by Forbes Magazine “There are reasons why societies need rules: to protect each other. Because, believe it or not, there are people out there who don’t care about your or other people’s safety and well-being.”


“COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.” Despite the growing number of COVID cases, and tragically, COVID patient deaths, there are some people who believe that COVID is no worse than the seasonal flu. Influenza and COVID-19 are entirely different viruses. Mayo Clinic explains the difference this way: “COVID-19 appears to be more contagious and to spread more quickly than the flu. Severe illness such as lung injury is more frequent with COVID-19 than with influenza. The mortality rate also is higher with COVID-19 than the flu.”


Masks help protect you and everyone around you from getting a virus that can leave lasting injury or cause death. Until COVID-19 is under control, masks are going to be a way of life for quite some time.