Every now and then, somebody captures an iconic image that manages to encapsulate not just the moment but an entire era. There's humans walking on the Moon in 1969, a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. And now, there's a man wearing a MAGA hat and a face mask designed to slow the spread of a respiratory disease as an eye mask on a flight during a pandemic.
Councilwoman Jessica Hazeltine from Medina, Ohio took the image on her flight from Cleveland to Nashville on Friday, telling her followers, "Yes, this man used a surgical mask to cover his eyes. Yes, he wore the mask like this from departure to arrival," adding in a second post, "No, the flight staff did not ask him to adjust the mask. Allegiant Airlines is not making masks on flights mandatory until July 2nd."
Throughout the pandemic, wearing a mask has become mixed up in politics and identity, even though it is really only a health issue. To put it bluntly:
And even more bluntly:
There have been multiple studies, not just about the benefits of preventing transmission by wearing a mask over your respiratory system, but about the psychology of wearing a mask, ie who will and won't and why.
For instance, men are less likely to wear a mask, according to one study, and more likely than women to agree with the statements: "wearing a face covering is shameful", "wearing a face covering is a sign of weakness" and “wearing a face covering is not cool".
Republicans are less likely to wear masks than Democrats, with a recent Pew survey showing 76 percent of Democrats self-reported wearing masks in stores all or most of the time compared to 53 percent of Republicans.
This reluctance to wear masks needs to change if we are to keep the R number low and reduce the spread of the disease. Health officials recommend wearing a mask because of how effective they are at protecting others if you are infected.
If you won't do it to protect others, you should do it to protect yourself. One recent study found that not wearing a face mask "dramatically increases a person's chances of being infected by the COVID-19 virus". The research estimated that using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 66,000 in New York City from April 17-May 9.
Of course, the guy in the MAGA hat could just be confused about how to wear a mask rather than making a statement about how they're better used for naps, so let's move on to how you should be wearing the mask for maximum effect.
First off, and we can't believe we have to say this, the mask does not go over your eyes. OK? Great. Now let's move on to the really complicated stuff: The mask does go over your nose.
Going to really stress this one, as it's something people are having trouble grasping.
It really is as simple as putting it on over your nose and mouth, and keeping it on when in the presence of others rather than taking breaks and pulling it down to just cover your chin. If you have glasses, this is a great tip for how to keep them on your face and prevent them from fogging up, whilst wearing your mask.
Speaking of masks...