“To Mask or Not? The Weighty Symbolism Behind a Simple Choice”

“How a pandemic precaution has joined climate change as an indicator of our ideological differences.”

“Coronavirus masks have become the latest symbol in the culture wars, with many liberals and conservatives in the United States taking opposing sides, much as they have in the fight over climate action.

For one side, masks represent an affront to liberty, signaling an overreaction to the pandemic that's been led by state governments and public health experts, and fueled by ivory-tower elitists. President Donald Trump's mask-less visit to a mask-making factory in Arizona—like the chat, sans mask, that Vice President Mike Pence, the coronavirus task force leader, had with a Covid-19 patient at the Mayo Clinic in April—resembles the administration's tenacious denial of the climate crisis and refusal to address it.

Many mask wearers, on the other hand, view mingling mask-free in public places as both offensive and unhealthy, an affront to efforts to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 cases in the United States, which as of Sunday totaled more than 1.3 million, with 79,000 deaths. For some who wear them, masks also signal support for science-informed decision making.”

Judy Fahys reports for InsideClimate News May 11, 2020.