Why aren’t Americans wearing facemasks to prevent spread of coronavirus?

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., infecting millions, why do so many Americans resist the most simple remedy to the transmission of the virus—facemasks?

For my latest video, I take a look at some of motivations and influences for those who still resist this simple measure despite all the evidence of how effective a non-pharmaceutical intervention like facemasks are to preventing the spread of viruses like COVID-19. Politics plays into it, of course, as leaders like President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have insisted on not wearing masks in public, but conspiracy theories play an active role as well.

Most Americans have a libertarian streak. Hardly anyone likes being told what to do, but the very idea of coming together to stop a viral threat has become a part of the ongoing culture war waged by the rightwing. From the president to conservative media to people losing it at public meetings or grocery stores that require masks, anger over facemasks is widespread, even as the infection rate has skyrocketed across the nation, especially in Republican-voting states.

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Links to reporting relied on for this video:

Infections on the rise in red states: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/

Red states working the numbers: politico.com/news/2020/05/27/bad-state-coronavirus-data-trump-reopening-286143

New spikes alarm Republicans, but not Trump: https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-25/new-coronavirus-spike-alarms-republicans-but-not-trump

Conservative media consumption correlates with outbreaks and infection rates: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/25/fox-news-hannity-coronavirus-misinformation/?utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

Re-open activist infected: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/reopen-maryland-coronavirus-walters/2020/06/26/677caa02-b7b7-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html

Cases on the rise in Arizona, Texas, and Florida: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/28/coronavirus-live-updates-us/

Americans who refuse to wear facemasks: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-do-so-many-americans-refuse-to-wear-face-masks-it-may-have-nothing-to-do-with-politics-2020-06-16

Black Lives Matter protests not linked to coronavirus outbreaks: https://time.com/5861633/protests-coronavirus/ Trump losing support in polls: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/upshot/polling-trump-erosion-support.html

Prominent Republicans won’t vote for Trump: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/carly-fiorina-vote-biden/613474/

Trump losing support among older voters: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/us/politics/trump-approval-older-voters-coronavirus.html

Trump Administration blames CDC for coronavirus failures: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/23/trump-cdc-overhaul-coronavirus-335039

Study on pandemic flu: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/208354

Published by Joe Payne

Joe Payne is a lifelong resident of the Santa Maria Valley who teaches music, performs, and tunes pianos (pianopayne.com). He's also a seasoned journalist who shares his own reporting and opinion on matters local and national (politicalpayne.com).

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