Few things bother Americans more than infringing on their freedom.
Freedom is the God-given right to Americans. Go spend a day at the beach, go shopping, go to the movie theater, go to work, or go visit one’s family.
But all these have changed with the latest Covid-19 pandemic.
First, people are told that they have to stay at home or “shelter in place.” Then they are told that they have to wear masks. Shelter-in-place means you are not allowed to leave the house and do those things that you are supposed to be free to do. This restriction absolutely infringes upon your freedom of movement and freedom of assembly.
Masking is even more personal—you have to wear this cloth or filter material that covers half your face. It’s definitely uncomfortable. This makes it much harder to breathe, especially in hot weather, when walking or exercising.
Some argue that you would breath in the bad carbon dioxide that you exhale, which is unhealthy. If you wear glasses, it fogs up the lens in seconds.
In addition, masks are getting expensive, as the prices have risen, and most stores have a hard time stocking enough of them. And on top of that, how could a democratic government tell Americans what to wear?
What kind of country has this become?
President Trump has called Covid many names—it’s from China, it’s just a flu, it’s a hoax from liberals or Democrats to help Biden.
For months, Trump has steadfastly refused to wear a mask. So why did he finally put on a mask himself when visiting the Walter Reed Hospital?
The truth of the matter is that the Covid virus is very different and extremely contagious. It can be transmitted by people carrying the virus without any symptom. It is airborne, meaning that it can transmit invisibly in midair.
We’ve all heard of washing our hands for 30 seconds or maintaining 6 feet of social distancing. But it turns out the most important thing anyone can do to stop the transmission of this dangerous and often deadly virus is when everyone wears a mask.
In places such as Hong Kong, where the population density is very high with 7.5 million people living in skyscrapers similar to Manhattan, most people use public transportation daily, and social distancing basically is difficult. Many people probably do wash their hands, but certainly not everyone. And yet, since February, there are only six confirmed deaths linked to Covid in Hong Kong. That literally is less than one in a million.
Compare that to the latest hot spots far less dense or populous in America. Hot Springs, Arkansas’s rate is over 21,500 deaths per million.
Meanwhile many small Texas towns—Scurry, Crockett, Anderson and Val Verde, to name just a few—have an equivalent rate of over 15,000 deaths per million.
How is that possible?
The answer is not simply social distancing. The biggest difference is that 99 percent of Hong Kong residents wear masks. They wear masks outdoor, while riding buses and subway trains, and they wear masks indoor, at malls, and at work.
Besides wearing masks, life is actually quite normal in Hong Kong throughout this time without the government’s ordering shelter-in-place.
Goldman Sachs released a study showing that mandatory mask-wearing can save the U.S. GDP by 5 percent. That’s because if everyone wears a mask, less shelter-in-place restrictions would be necessary and the American economy could be safely reopened.
Another fascinating story that underscored a similar point emerged at a Missouri hair salon. At the salon, two stylists unwittingly carried the Covid-19 virus—yet neither their co-workers nor their 139 clients were infected simply because everyone was wearing masks despite their close proximity.
Based on what we have learned in the last few months, not wearing masks is not about freedom. Rather, it’s really inconsiderate, reckless and deadly.
Wearing mask is the fastest way we can reopen our economy to bring our freedoms back.
While various politicians are still dithering on whether or not to mandate mask wearing, it’s time to put factually based statistics and science above politics.
In the end, it's quite simple: to regain our freedom, we all need to wear masks.
Otto Lee is a patent attorney and former mayor of Sunnyvale running against Assemblyman Kansen Chu for the Santa Clara County District 3 supervisor seat. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].