If the President wore a mask, many more Americans would wear masks. How many? We think it’s fair to say millions and millions…
Couple of things off top before we get to that:
• First, President Trump has set a rally for June 19th, in Tulsa. That’s an incendiary choice in terms of the place and the date (if you don’t know why, you can follow this link).
We are pretty much 100% sure Trump won’t wear a mask at that rally and several others in the works. Meanwhile, no guidance for attendees on the ticket request form for Tulsa about safety, face coverings or social distancing. Only this:
Masks almost definitely won’t be on the menu at the Republican National Convention, which now will happen in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of August, since the governor of North Carolina, where it was originally supposed to be, would not guarantee Trump full-capacity, no masks by then. (Some events will still probably stay in Charlotte; just the big-time nationally televised speeches and such are moving). We also find it interesting that the Florida venue Trump chose is significantly smaller than where he was scheduled to be in North Carolina. That way, he can have fewer people, but it’ll look more full.
• Second, Trump’s own former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb went out of his way this week to point out how important mask-wearing is to preventing further COVID-19 spread. He pointed to a newly released report, which projects that “routine face mask use by 50% or more of the population” would reduce COVID-19 spread to a level where each infected person is infecting less than one additional person, making it impossible–in the long run–for the disease to endure.
Gottlieb also urged the federal government to accelerate funding not only for vaccine testing and manufacturing, but also for testing of “antibody cocktails” that might fight or help prevent COVID-19, and might be available a lot sooner.
Yet even without a vaccine or highly effective treatment, mask wearing seems to be on the wane in the U.S., as more states open up. Even as cases continue to rise in many places.
Where we are now, in a small/medium town in Massachusetts, which just this week entered a more advanced stage of reopening, the number of people we’re seeing wearing masks has gone back down to pretty much zero, with the exception of business and restaurant operators. We shouldn’t say zero, because we continue to wear a mask whenever we go outside. Yes, it took us some time to get used to it. About a day. After that, really, it’s so easy.
But the local online message boards, which tend to skew both far-Right and far-Left, are just littered now with screeds about how scientists are trying to take over the world, on top of well-worn theories about how mask wearing is actually bad for you.
For some reason, for Americans, it’s just a hard sell.
Now, most of the protestors we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks have been wearing masks, which in many cases has served a dual and necessary purpose. At the same time, the President continues to flaunt his own White House recommendations that people wear masks and has even Retweeted stuff equating mask wearing with weakness.
Even if the President truly feels wearing a mask is unmanly (and it has nothing to do with messing up his spray tan), if he really wants to blame China for everything when it comes to COVID-19, he should be wearing a mask anyway. Because there’s no doubt Trump’s refusal to wear a face mask has led to some spread of COVID-19.
All you need to do is look at the numbers.
Let’s break it down: there are around 30,000,000 registered Republicans in this country. Let’s take Trump at his word that he has a 96% approval rating among registered Republicans. So that’s around 29,000,000 Trump “fans”. Now let’s say just 10% of them are not wearing a mask because the President is not wearing a mask, and would be wearing a mask if the President was wearing a mask.
That’s 2,900,000 more people who would we wearing a mask if the President was. But they’re not. That’s equivalent to the population of Chicago. Think there’s any chance that’s turned into zero infections? Zero spread? How many people got sick because of Trump’s vanity?
Think Trump’s self-professed popularity numbers are baloney? Then let’s take the most recent poll from Gallup: it shows Trump’s approval rating now at 85% among Republicans. So that’s 25 and a half million people. Take the same 10%, and you’d have 2,500,000 more mask wearers.
That’s still millions and millions. Minimum.
And that’s just if 10% (!) of his followers are following his lead, and would also be if he was wearing a mask. Let’s say it’s 30% of his followers (meaning 7 out of 10 still wouldn’t be): that’d be as many as almost 9,000,000 more people regularly wearing masks than now. 50% of his followers = nearly 15-million more Americans wearing masks.
But instead of at least encouraging mask wearing, Trump actively works to undermine it, commenting “So many different viewpoints!”, atop a Retweet whining that masks are about “social control”, not “safety”.
Oh yeah? Why then is the White House now requiring everybody who enters don a mask? Except for the President. And why do all White House public guidelines encourage Americans to wear masks? (We’re not even talking the CDC or Fauci here, we’re talking the White House itself!) Except the President who keeps up an endless string of non-endorsement endorsements of mask wearing: “I won’t be doing it.”
A lot of people fought against seat belt laws on the grounds of personal freedoms when they were first introduced. Laws against texting and driving were hardly as controversial. Why? Because by wearing a seat belt you are—for the most part—only protecting yourself. When you text and drive you are—for the most part—putting others at risk. And Americans, most of the time, while steadfast in not wanting anyone to tell them what to do with their own lives. are usually willing to be more flexible, or at least see some value in looking out for others. Especially since this is temporary…
Meanwhile Trump ridicules his rival Joe Biden for wearing one. When Biden looks like a badass.
And as we always do when we write about masks, we know we’ll get responses about how there’s no evidence they work for anything. Yes there is. The best place to point is the Czech Republic, which fought the Coronavirus almost exclusively through the widespread (and widely adopted) use of masks. So much so that while much of Europe is still reeling, it’s opened up again without masks.
And even Trump’s original excuse for not wearing a mask doesn’t hold water anymore:
“I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know. Somehow, I don’t see it for myself.”
Because most if not all of his favorite “dictators” Trump’s so worried about impressing, have been wearing masks nowadays.
The Philippines’ Duterte:
Of course, China’s President Xi:
Putin goes full Hazmat:
So is it really that important to Trump to be a bigger lunatic than the President of Brazil?
Oh, wait. Even he wore a mask this week: