The 5 Points Against the Mask Mandate

May 2, 2021
Social Policy

I will start off by saying I voluntarily wear a mask whenever I am in an indoor public space.

However, I do not support mandating the wearing of face masks for the following reasons.

  1. Racially Disparate Enforcement. The mask mandate debate is taking place during historic protests against police brutality. As more people realize the disparate treatment of minorities by the police, people have been calling for a reduced role for the police, particularly in regard to interactions with minorities. But, what happens when masks are mandated? We go back to police disproportionately targeting minorities. New York mandated mask-wearing but retracted the law. The figures showed that officers issued 374 summons from Mar. 16 to May 5, of which 81 percent went to Blacks and Hispanics. 91 percent of the more than 100 coronavirus arrests were of Black or Hispanic citizens. So, as we mandate mask wearing, we are effectively turning a blind eye to how that enforcement negatively affects minorities.
  2. Violent Enforcement. New York retracted its mask enforcement after a viral video of police knocking a mother to the ground, in front of her child, for wearing a mask improperly There have already been several violent incidents of enforcement around the country due to similar  disputes. One day into Michigan’s mandate, a Michigan police officer killed a man after a mask dispute. A woman was body slammed by an off-duty police officer for refusing to wear a mask in an Alabama Walmart. Did that help us fight the coronavirus? No.
  3. Waste of 911 and Health Resources. When face masks were mandated in Detroit and Tampa Bay, hundreds of people called 911 or the health department to report violations. In New York City, thousands called in violations to 311 in one month. Other areas in states mandating mask-wearing, like Ohio, Milwaukee and Montana, have proactively told their citizens not to call 911 for face mask violations — thus, not mandating the mandate. Enforcing mask-wearing wastes police and health resources. In case you have not noticed, there has been a surge in crime, and we are in the middle of a pandemic. Areas in North Carolina, Kansas and California have stated they will not enforce mandates because they do not have the resources to do so. So, it is basically a mandate without enforcement, which is essentially the same as the strong encouragement in areas without mandates.
  4. Disproportionate Harm to the Poor. More and more states, like Oregon and New Jersey, are requiring mask wearing not only when indoors but also when outdoors. What is the big deal you say? If you are a white-collar worker who can work remotely, it is probably not that big a deal. But, if you are a construction worker in temperatures around 100 degrees, that is going to be rough. This is the kind of mandate that disproportionately impacts the poor, who are more likely to work outside, but is passed with gusto by the rich, who may not have to leave their air conditioning for work. The poor are more likely to be cited for failure to wear a mask, as they are more likely to be in public, while the rich can work in their offices, houses and cars. Mask mandates are the rich’s way of mandating the choices of the poor. Furthermore, there is a much smaller chance of catching COVID-19 outside, so masks are not as necessary for poor outside-workers as inside-workers.
  5. Logical Problems. If someone is not wearing a mask, the police are alerted, but by the time they arrive, the problem is likely already over. If the police actually confront someone for not wearing a mask, the police and that person are exposed to each other, making the spread of the virus more likely. If that person is arrested and goes to jail, the spread is even more likely. Eight of the 10 biggest COVID-19 hotspots are in jails or prisons. So, in the name of protecting us, we are spreading the virus more. More police interactions with black and Hispanic individuals risk spreading the virus more into those communities, which have already been hit hard.

In order to suppress the pandemic, strongly encouraging mask-wearing is appropriate, but I think mandating masks causes more problems than it solves.