Why You Should Be Wearing a Mask in Public During this Pandemic

I’m going to cut to the chase.

Wear. A. Mask. In. Public.

I know it might feel weird. I know it might make some people feel embarrassed or weak (?). I know it feels uncomfortable. I know it’s a little bit inconvenient. I know Americans value independence and freedom and liberty and in general don’t like being told what to do.

An image of a woman wearing a maskBut I also know many Americans value community.

I know many Americans value public safety and public health and the individuals who work on the front lines of those fields. I know many Americans value caring for their neighbors. And right now, and for the forseeable future, wearing a mask in public is one of the best ways to demonstrate those values.

Now that businesses are opening up again, we might take that as a sign that we can loosen social distancing and other prevention practices. While we’re eager for things to “go back to normal,” the reality is things won’t be normal for a long time. If you do go out, you still need to be vigilant about protecting yourself and others to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This includes wearing a mask when you go out in public.

(One note: I recognize that some neurodiverse individuals may have sensory issues that might make mask wearing difficult. Here’s a good article outlining how one family keeps their child and others safe in this situation. Masks can also be challenging for individuals who are hearing impaired. In these types of situations other accommodations should be made).

Wearing a mask prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to other people.

Since tests are scarce and people can be asymptomatic carriers of the disease, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the illness.

Wearing a mask sends the message: “I’m not sure if I’m infected. I’m wearing a mask in case I’m infected because I don’t want to infect others.”

Wearing a mask says: “It feels a little bit uncomfortable/awkward/weird wearing this mask but I’m prioritizing the health of others above my feelings of awkwardness.”

Wearing a mask in public shows that you care about people you know and people you don’t know.

It shows that you don’t want anyone to fall prey to this scary infection that we still don’t quite know how to treat. It shows that you recognize this disease is a wild card that impacts EVERYONE, including children. It’s not just the elderly or those with preexisting conditions who are hit hard by COVID-19.

Wearing a mask shows that you care about keeping kids like my son Adrien safe. Let me tell you a little bit about him.

He’s excited about starting high school in the fall. He is smart, hilarious, frustrating at times (because he’s 14), and an overall joy to be around. He loves basketball, baking, and fishing.

He’s is a healthy kid, but has a history of asthma-related issues. Respiratory illnesses have always been problematic for him. When he was little I always panicked when he got a cold. A simple seasonal illness could be enough to send him to the hospital. To this day a typical cold can leave him coughing for weeks.

It terrifies me to think about what this disease could do to him. This disease that takes its grip in the lungs and can leave even young healthy people gasping for air.

It terrifies me to think of this infection sweeping through my family. This isn’t a just a common cold or flu. It’s unpredictable. There’s no certainty on how it will impact people now or what the long-term effects will be.

It terrifies me to think of this illness hurting people I know and people I don’t know. If wearing a mask in public is something I can do to keep my family and my community safe, then I will do it as long as I have to.

I wear a mask because I love my friends and family. I love my community. I want to be with them again, in person, not through a computer screen. I want this to be over as much as everyone else.

My friends tease me about how I’m an awkward hugger. But I’m so excited to hug everyone I know when it’s safe to do so. In order for that to happen, we need to continue to be careful as things open up.

Carry a mask with you at all times. Never leave home without it. Wear it when you need it.

I can’t wait until we can all be together again.

For more information on mask guidelines, where to purchase masks, and patterns for homemade masks, check out the links below.


Meghann is the mom of 5 kids. She is a Lecturer at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an Owner/Partner at Brand Driven Digital. Meghann was elected to the Coralville City Council in 2017 and is currently serving her first term. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Coralville Community Food Pantry (Vice-Chair) and on the DVIP Board of Directors. She is also a member of Johnson County's Juvenile Justice and Youth Development Policy Board. Meghann is passionate about her family, her community, and is a proud pop culture nerd.


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