It’s been said so many times at this point, but let’s throw it out there again since people apparently still need to hear it: wear a damn face mask.
Mask-wearing is not a political act during a global pandemic, even if corrupt political forces are working their hardest to turn it into one. Even Doug Burgum, the Republican governor of the largely conservative state of North Dakota, wants you to understand the importance of putting on a mask.
The governor made a tearful plea to his constituents during a Friday press conference, growing visibly emotional as he explained the various circumstances that make wearing a mask essential as covid-19 continues to infect people all around the world. The clip quickly went viral on Saturday as a legion of fact-respecting Twitter users cheered Burgum on.
“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support. They might be doing it because they have a five-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments,” he said, pausing as his voice cracked.
Then he continued: “They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have covid and they’re fighting. … If somebody wants to wear a mask, there should be no mask-shaming. You should look at them and say, ‘That person is wearing a mask because, for them, there is additional risk in their life.'”
It should be noted that North Dakota – admittedly one of the less populous states – was never put under a shelter-in-place order. Non-essential businesses were shut down in late March, but the state began to re-open on May 1, even as vast sections of the country still struggled to keep the virus under control.
That said, Burgum has clearly accepted a few things about the grim reality facing the world today. Importantly, he made a point of declaring at this press conference, out loud and definitively, that putting on a mask is no kind of political action. It’s just too bad he wasn’t more direct in recommending that every, single person wear a mask. That’s the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which we should all be listening to.
Masks are less about protecting you than they are about protecting anyone else. Covid-19 is a scary illness in part because it spreads so easily, even before symptoms manifest for most people. And since most of the virus spread can be traced back to respiratory droplets released when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, putting a mask on your own face means you’re spreading it that much less if you have the illness but don’t realize it yet.
If you’re tired of hearing all this and still refuse to wear a mask, you’re part of the problem – literally, you’ve become an agent in helping perpetuate the spread of this terrible threat. How nice, then, to see a message like this going viral.
It’s commonplace these days to see social networks like Twitter flooded with misinformation about what does and doesn’t qualify as safe conduct, even from public officials. Burgum’s remarks cut through all of that, and in a way that hopefully to the voters of his state – and perhaps others – on the kind of emotional level they can relate to.