learn about COVID-19, its impact, and what you can do about it.
Even within our polarized environment, many believe that masks should be worn. A majority of Democrats support it, and more Republicans support wearing masks than Republicans who don’t. But it seems that on the news, we keep getting information about, “Trump’s dumbfounding refusal to encourage wearing masks,” as the Washington Post put it. Vice President Mike Pence infamously visited a hospital without a mask on. It is undeniable that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, so why can’t we just step up and wear a mask?
While a majority of Republicans believe people should wear masks while in public, three in five also said that, “the worst is behind us.” So what is the main reason for some vocal conservatives refusing to wear masks?
The first reason is President Trump. He has, to say the least, flip-flopped on the subject of masks. He has said of them, “Masks are a double-edged sword”, “I won’t be [wearing] it, personally,” and, “It is patriotic to wear a face mask.” Even though he has since called it patriotic, at first he did not support them, and many of his outspoken supporters oppose wearing masks. *
The second reason is how divisive America’s news networks are. Trump and FOX News originally downplayed the threat of the virus, pointing out the parallels between the flu and coronavirus. Because of this, some conservatives heard only that the virus wasn’t harmful, and believed it was identical to the seasonal flu. They took this as a reason not to wear masks.
The third reason is the CDC and WHO not originally suggesting masks. The United States were lulled into a false sense of security as they couldn’t test enough. Without testing, it seemed as though COVID-19 wouldn’t hit America hard. Other factors were cultural norms and a shortage of masks. Had the CDC or WHO suggested masks, we might be in a better place today.
The fourth reason pertains to younger populations. They believe they’re untouchable, and don’t understand the consequences of getting the virus, even if they don’t die.
In a poll conducted by Pew Research, 52% of Republicans said masks should be worn most/all of the time, while only 23% say rarely/never worn. So clearly, Republicans favor wearing masks. Arguably, the GOP has simultaneously softened their position on masks. GOP governors of Mississippi and Alabama implored people to wear masks, stating, “It does no one any good for you to shame someone because they’re wearing a mask.” Republican governors of Texas and Arizona now, after becoming hot spots for the virus, have put in place mask mandates. And Trump has changed his stance from questioning the usefulness of masks to praising mask wearers as patriotic.
Some governors still are trying to prevent mask mandates by blocking local businesses and local governments from requiring masks. Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, for putting in place a mask mandate.
In the end, it is beyond doubt that Republicans have started to approach masks in a more positive light. As cases and deaths soar, the partisanship of masks is in decline. Everyone, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike have realized that wearing masks is a small price to pay. A CNN ad puts it best. “A mask can say a lot about the person who wears it, but even more about the person who doesn’t.”
Written by Jacob Hertz and Alan Long
Authors and Editors