Mask up: our lives are worth more than political views

In the world of coronavirus, we need to separate our political viewpoints from verifiable scientific fact.


by Carmon Baker, Web Editor

Scrolling through my TikTok “For You” page, I sigh to myself. You never should have downloaded this app, I think. Now you’re addicted, and it’s a distraction. But I continue to scroll anyways for a few more minutes, before stopping in shock to watch a video of a woman screaming at a store clerk. While I don’t remember exactly what she said, it was something along the lines of, “I don’t have to wear a mask! That’s my right in the Constitution.” 

I was shocked. Over the course of quarantine, this has not been the only video I have seen of individuals behaving like this. Every time I see one, the same two thoughts always cross my mind: When did it become acceptable to risk another’s life just to avoid a mild inconvenience? And when did scientific fact become synonymous with political opinion? 

Over the last few years, I have seen other similar instances arise in U.S. politics. When discussing climate change, I have heard someone exclaim, “That’s just a liberal conspiracy!” Or when reading an opinion piece from an anti-vaxxer, I have heard, “Vaccines cause autism, I don’t have to vaccinate my child.” These instances make me incredibly frustrated, and I wonder why something that is proven scientifically is being considered a political issue. It seems to me that our country has become so polarized politically that we have begun to confuse political opinion with basic scientific fact. Instead of believing science, some are choosing instead to follow the “opinions” of their political leaders, which could potentially be very harmful. 

It is an indisputable fact that masks protect against COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a mask protects you and those around you from COVID-19. It is worth the mild inconvenience of having to breathe in recycled air for a few minutes or having your glasses fog up occasionally when you are in a store if it means protecting yourself and others. The lives of at-risk populations, including the elderly and the immunocompromised are not a political opinion. Everyone deserves the right to live a healthy life, and our political beliefs should not interfere with that. 

Seeing how our country has reacted to the pandemic has made me extremely disappointed. For me personally, it almost seems like our government is making a mockery of a serious issue, and I have been horrified to see how certain government officials have responded to the pandemic. It has become a political issue when it should not be. When I look at the news, all I see is Donald Trump blaming the pandemic on liberals or his representatives arguing with reporters over scientific fact. People are losing their lives to this disease. It is a real, tangible, scientific issue, but it is being treated as a political one instead. 

This pandemic could never have been completely avoided, but its effects could have been less extreme, had we ignored our own political bias and followed the examples of other countries. For example, according to Time, as of August, Singapore had only seven COVID-19 related deaths. The article believes that this is the result of quick action, including closing borders and contact tracing. The U.S. has not been as effective in their response, generating a far larger number of deaths. 

In my opinion, we have gone through too much to still be treating COVID-19 as we are. As of Sept. 11, there have been almost 200,000 deaths in the United States alone due to coronavirus, and that number continues to rise. For now, we all need to set our biases aside. This pandemic, along with so many other issues in our world today, is not a matter of opinion. It is not a matter of political belief or affiliation. It is an urgent crisis, and we need to come together and solve this problem. We need to acknowledge the facts and let go of our stubbornness to truly resolve what plagues our country today.