Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been clear controversy over differing opinions on wearing a mask. Some argue forcing one to wear a mask infringes on personal liberty and freedom of expression, while others believe it is a piece of fabric/material that we all need to wear to be able to just live normally again and ensure the safety of others.
However, with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new announcement of “You do you.” mask policy, it looks like transmission of the virus may become more possible in tight spaces, as some who are positive for the virus may not comply with wearing a mask if the mask is not regulated by county or state. Within the new policy, MTA posted signage all over the subways stating, “Masks are encouraged, but optional.” The signs also depict several proper ways of wearing a mask, a figure of a person wearing a mask only on their nose (which is comedically aimed at those who improperly wore it during the height of the pandemic), and a figure without a mask labeled, “yes.” The sign could be argued to have a political standpoint of one’s rights, as the main saying is “let’s respect each other’s choices.”
The problem is, the subways themselves are always packed to the brim, so the chances of transmitting the virus from close contact heightens when one is not wearing a mask. The subways are full of people from all over the city, and some traveling from outside of New York visiting for the weekend. As Omicron rages with tens of cases a day in our own North Country, it’s hard to believe that one of the most populated cities in the country, and where the pandemic originally was a hotspot in New York, wouldn’t regulate something as simple as this. There’s still thousands of cases in NYC a day.
Those who are conscious of the virus and want to keep others safe, thank you. Those who are not, why do we want this to continue? The virus is staying around live and well for now, so it’s important we try to limit the spread as much as possible. Regulating masks is not a political agenda; it’s a way to put less people’s lives at risk. As rates are falling, it’s still important to remember each person has their own set of health risks if they catch the virus.
According to NPR, “Critics of the new policy say it puts immunocompromised people at risk. They maintain that it’s too early to drop masking mandates, noting that omicron and its BA.4 and BA.5 sub variants recently spurred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge people to get new booster shots.”
Even though the online memes of the sign are funny, completely dropping the mask mandate on Subways opens the doorway to more people contracting Omicron if proper care isn’t taken. So please, if you are sick, wear a mask. If you are supposed to quarantine, quarantine, And if you’re afraid to contract the virus, just wear the mask in public places. Keep the peace, respect each other’s beliefs, but respect each other’s health by wearing a mask when you need to. It’s that simple.