The Limits of Mask Ordinances

Masks are important. But there are a lot of indoor risks that recent mask mandates don’t address.

Photo: Jernej Furman

Washington, D.C. has become the latest major city to require masks outside the home. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the executive order on Wednesday; it will last for at least the next two and a half months, and those who violate the rule could face a fine as high as $1,000. “Basically, what it says is if you leave home, you should wear a mask,” Bowser said at a press conference. Walking your dog, waiting for the bus, riding on public transportation and in taxis and ridesharing arrangements—any time you’re likely to come in contact with a person, which includes being within six feet of them “for more than a fleeting time,” a mask is required.

The mask mandate drops into a complicated environment. Masks clearly help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19—with cloth masks mostly serving as what the experts call “source control,” blocking what comes out of a person’s mouth. Anti-maskers, complaining that masks infringe upon their freedom, have become a serious problem for many business owners as well as policymakers trying to bring the pandemic under control. Bowser’s order was announced as D.C. cases rise once more, after finally slowing in June.

At the same time, masks have their limits in controlling the pandemic—and while normalizing their use is important, it’s not the only measure needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Read more at The New Republic.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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