By Julian Tack
With a potential vaccine for Covid-19 set to arrive in 2021, many have speculated on what the future of the United States may look like moving forward. Will we continue to enforce social distancing? If so, for how long? How accessible will the vaccine be? There are so many questions but there are no easy answers. However, one question that I want to pose and share my opinion on is: Should we wear face masks post-pandemic? Although it is important to wear face coverings during these trying times, should we continue to do so even if everyone has access to the vaccine? This question may not be on the top of anyone's Covid related questions list but it is definitely worth discussing. Many countries in Asia have worn face coverings long before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic but not everyone understands the reasoning behind it. Using information about why face masks are used in Japan as well as what we know about Covid-19, I’m going to share my opinion on if we should consider wearing a mask even after we beat the virus.
In the late 1800’s, religious amulets and lucky charms such as talismans were a common way to treat illnesses. Thankfully that practice was later banned in the early 20th century. Around that time, the Japanese government combated many other diseases by issuing and distributing face coverings for its people to wear. Illnesses such as Hay Fever, H1N1, Avian Flu, and SARS left many people feeling helpless due to the death rates of each pandemic. The distributed masks gave the people of Japan hope because everyone felt like they were able to do their part in saving lives. It may seem so small and simple but this was the early 20th century, we as a society have advanced in medical research so much since then. If you wear a mask in Japan nowadays you’d be seen as a considerate and respectful person who doesn’t want to get other people sick.
According to BEME News, 50% of Japan’s population wear face masks. Whether it be on the subways, the city streets, or work, face masks have become a part of life there. Not only is there population control in Japan, but pollution is also an issue in Asia. The usage of surgical masks help prevent poor air quality and germs from getting into people’s lungs. Masks are so customary in fact, that it has also become a part of fashion. $250 million is spent on face masks yearly in Japan according to Bright Side. This makes sense considering that the entire content of Asia represents 60% of the world's population. It’s no wonder why masks have become integrated into many of the population's daily life.
I definitely think Americans should consider wearing a mask after a cure for Covid-19 is found. Just because we create a vaccine doesn’t mean everyone will have gotten it, at least not for a while. I certainly don’t think the government should force people to wear face masks once it’s over, but we as a society should be a little more accepting of people who continue to wear it. Prior to all the shutdowns, I remember a lot of people making fun of others who wore masks and gloves. Even now there are some people who refuse to do so but at least it has become a lot more socially acceptable given the circumstances. If anything we should continue to educate people about the many reasons why we should wear a face covering, discuss why others around the world do it, and encourage people who wear them post-Corona virus instead of condemning them. Taking a page or two from the east might not be such a bad idea since we face many similar problems whether our country likes to admit it or not.