What Will it Take for the Usage of Facials Masks to Become Normalized?
As health experts continue to learn more about the most likely vectors of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, it is becoming more clear that facial masks make a difference. Not only does wearing a mask help to protect you from catching the virus, but it also helps to protect everyone else around you. While nobody particularly enjoys wearing a mask every time that they leave the house, there are places in which the use of these coverings is becoming extremely widespread.
Unfortunately, there are also wide swaths of the country that have not bought in to mandatory mask usage as a way to control the spread of the virus. So what will it take for the entire nation to get on board with using these facial coverings as a preventative measure?
Listen to the Experts
In order to achieve widespread buy-in of mask usage, it is imperative that everyone listens to the health experts. With so much conflicting information, it is challenging to discern what is right. Add that to the fact that this virus is leading to a rapidly changing situation, it is hard to know who to trust. If the country wants to get on the same page, there needs to be an acceptance of the information provided by health experts.
Remove the Politics
One of the biggest challenges in convincing people to wear masks is that the issue has become increasingly politicized. The consistent usage of masks will not be a reality until the politics of the mandates are taken out of the picture. This means that both political parties need to deliver a uniform message supporting the usage of facial coverings to stop the spread of the virus and reopen the economy.
See First-Hand the Effects of the Spread
For some skeptical individuals, they might not see the virus as a problem because they have not yet been exposed to its devastating effects. With so much mixed messaging, it is easy to see why people are confused about the severity of the virus. In this case, it will take first-hand experience with the virus for people to realize that they need to do their part by wearing a mask. There have been reports of people claiming that the virus was a hoax on social media, only to infected with it just days later.
In the beginning days of the outbreak, it was understandable that some people were skeptical about the far-reaching effects. However, at this point, every single state in the county has been affected on some scale. Most states have experienced severe spikes that have left many hospitals overwhelmed.
The more that people see how the virus has touched their lives personally, the higher the chance that these individuals will adopt mask-wearing as a viable way to prevent the transmission of the illness.
A key element in promoting the widespread use of facial masks is to get corporations on boards with enforcing mandatory usage of the coverings. In recent weeks, many retailers have taken it upon themselves to mandate facial coverings at their stores. Costco was the initial leader in this initiative, mandating the use of masks in early May. Since that time, more retailers have changed their policies to encourage mask-wearing. In the last few days alone, Kroger, Target, Walmart, and CVS have all made announcements requiring that customers wear masks when shopping in their stores. As more companies make masks mandatory, the protective practice will become more normalized.
Changing the Dialogue
The only way that we can win against this virus is to change the dialogue. This will take a concerted effort from health officials to offer concise information delivered across a myriad of mediums. The information needs to target different age groups in ways that appeal to them. For example, the verbiage about the importance of mask-wearing will be different if it is directed at teenagers as opposed to senior citizens. The message also needs to be tailored to different ethnic groups, cultures, and socioeconomic levels.
In order to adjust to this new normal of wearing masks while in public, everyone needs to work together to deliver a consistent and non-political message. Until that happens, the use of facial converting as a way to prevent the spread of the virus will continue to be hit or miss.
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