Business Topics

Wearing a Mask Should Not Be Political

Written by JP Fritz, President

I have heard all the reasons for wearing and not wearing a mask, we all have likely indulged in some form of debate with someone we know about it.  Today, I would like to give you a businessperson’s perspective, an argument for wearing a mask.  To put it simply, we want to remain open for business.

Wearing a mask should not be about whether you are a Republican or Democrat.  It should be about what is best for our society.  Wearing a mask limits the potential for you to transmit Covid-19 to another person approximately 80% of the time, if you are positive for Covid-19.  Because you could be asymptomatic and still carry the active infection, the only way to protect other people is to wear a mask.  If the other person is also wearing a mask, the potential transmission goes down to around 1.5%.  This is important!

For the virus to be eliminated or decreased significantly enough to allow us to open up our economy further, we need to get the R factor under 1.  What is the R factor?  It is defined as the effective reproduction number, or more basically, the average number of people infected by someone with the virus.  The R factor has gone up in many states over the last few weeks, meaning the virus is infecting more people by this rate of transmission.  As long as the R factor is greater than one person being infected by one person, the virus will continue on the rise.  As you can imagine, the larger the group of people, the more potential one person has to infect more people.  Hence, cities have more potential for an R factor increase than rural areas.  Crowded events have more R-factor potential than socially distanced events.  Wearing a mask lowers the potential for the virus to infect other people, meaning the R factor would decrease.  And, as it goes down, there is more reason for our government to open things up safely.

What about my rights?  What about freedom?  In any society, people are not allowed do things that adversely affect the common good.  An extreme example would be murder.  We do not allow murder for the sake of common good.  Something much more similar to requiring everyone to wear a mask might be the prohibition of smoking inside businesses.  We know that secondhand smoke can cause cancer, so we have prohibitive laws to reduce the exposure of non-smokers.  Realize, we have not prohibited smoking, but tried to limit where it can be done.  In the same model, wearing a mask does offer a small amount of protection from others, but it more importantly protects others from you.

I know many people say the government said we shouldn’t wear masks early on.  How can it be OK one day and not the next?  As more information was available about how Covid-19 could be transmitted, this false information was corrected.  The CDC has been recommending wearing masks for some time, and there was plenty of science which has gone into this effort.  The facts show that the countries of the world which have required face masks since the beginning of the outbreak have had much lower growth in new cases. 

As a businessperson, the importance of wearing a face mask could not be more clear.  Lowering the R factor means my business will be able to remain open.  It also means the government would be able to loosen requirements so that businesses can be more profitable.  The entertainment and hospitality industries have been crushed by COVID-19.  To open to a level anywhere close to normal, we need the virus to be contained until there is a vaccine. 

Finally, I call on our governor to require face masks.  In states where face masks are required, the spread of the virus has been reduced significantly.  This is purely about science and not about politics.  Wearing a mask lowers that chance of spreading the virus, and if we reduce the spread, we will all benefit. Stay safe everyone!