For some inexplicable reason, mask usage has become a flash point for public disagreement during an already disruptive moment in our history. This is probably due to the lack of a clear vision and plan to get past this pandemic.
Beyond caring for our sick, the most important things that we can do right now is to 1) ensure our children can safely return to the school of their parents’ choice for face to face instruction, and 2) ensure that our free market economy fully reopens and jobs are restored. The best and most non-intrusive way to accomplish this is to maintain social distancing, wear masks in public when social distancing is not possible, and regularly wash hands. These simple actions will allow us to return to normalcy in a short period of time.
I recognize there are credible sources debunking the efficacy of masks. Similarly, there are just as many to the contrary. With Google's help, we can find whatever we are looking for to support our position these days. What seems to be lost in the debate is the difference between prevention, and mitigation. I agree that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is next to impossible. Reducing the spread, and the intensity of the virus, is not only possible but probable. Masks aid in that effort.
In South Carolina, the Governor has required masks in state government buildings and restaurants. Beyond that there are no state mandates. He has however encouraged localities to enact mask requirements. Both scenarios are open-ended and lack coordination. Because of that the effectiveness is in question while increasing disruption to people’s lives. I would prefer to see a statewide requirement with a specified end date. For example, requiring masks when social distancing is not possible, from August 1 – 31. This would provide for two, 14-day data cycles prior to schools reopening in September. It would also allow for businesses to operate near normally and provide clarity to the public. All while establishing data points to measure success.
The alternative is for us to do the right thing on our own. To date we have not. It is time that we, as conservatives, walk the walk. This is the point where we must live up to our long-standing demands for personal responsibility. I don’t like wearing masks, but I do care about my fellow citizens. I believe that we could have already defeated this virus, kept our economy open, educated our children, and avoided the expenditures of trillions of dollars in taxpayers’ money if we did this earlier. All without violating a single constitutionally granted right.