Ever since the first mandate nearly 600 days ago, masks have become a universal necessity in the public eye. However, despite a robust international call for sick individuals to use masks, some people still aren’t getting the big picture.
It should be common sense to protect yourself and others from the viruses circulating about –which is not limited to SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. Though much of the recent mask research has been in specific relation to COVID-19, there is significant overlap between other viral infections to suggest that they could be slowed from simply wearing a mask. Unfortunately, it seems some people do not realize the implications of being an unregulated germ production plant – be it for this season’s influenza, rhinovirus or a SARS-CoV-2 variant.
Unless there is a mask mandate in effect, there should be no real consequences for those who choose not to wear a mask, but it is important to recognize when the wellbeing of others should be prioritized over personal convenience.
In other areas of the world, mask use during cold and flu season is commonplace. In Japan, masks are a first line of defense in slowing viral infection transmission among communities and individuals wear masks even to protect themselves from seasonal pollen.
It is also important to recognize that immunocompromised people can still be severely affected from less fatal viral infections like the common cold and influenza. Now more than ever, we should consider wearing a mask for any type of respiratory illness. And as for social acceptability, I promise you that for every person who looks at you weird for wearing a mask, there are 10 more like me who appreciate your effort.