The imposition of (nearly) universal face covering requirements in many localities to restrict coronavirus spread may be harming more than helping the situation. Consider these challenges:
1: How confident are policy makers that this is not increasing virus spread? Proper handling of face coverings is crucial for proper function. To minimize virus spread, one must minimize touching the outside of the face covering with the hands, which are regularly in contact with unsanitized surfaces. Because of extensive misuse of face coverings, it is by no means certain that they restrict virus spread.
2: Wouldn’t it make more sense to supply N95 masks (with a rated particulate filtering performance) to that limited segment of the population most vulnerable to the virus? Which makes more sense: a sufficient number of effective masks to directly protect the wearer or widespread misuse of face coverings by the population at large?
3: Have authorities considered the unseen costs associated with mandating universal use of face coverings? Consider problems brought by their use over extended durations: heat stress, personal safety, communication difficulty, anxiety, socially dysfunctional behavior, etc.
As of July 7, per DHEC, there are 838 South Carolinians (0.016% of an estimated 5.15 million population) who have died with the coronavirus. We don’t need universal social experiments. We need to employ methods that have a track record of protecting vulnerable individuals from airborne pathogens. Let’s be people who truly think about the costs and benefits of what many of us are being required to do.