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Unmasking Demasking

Planes are the greatest things these days. They are able to transport people, food, and items great distances whilst simultaneously cutting down on time. What a wonderful experience planes give, the ability to transport the largest goods and the smallest viruses halfway across the globe within a day, especially given the packed wall-to-wall nature of most passenger aeroplanes. In March 2020, the world went under lockdown and began to panic. The speed at which this new virus spread and its effects across the globe occurred mostly in part due to these machines, these metal coffins able to deliver deadly doses to cities all over the world. 

Then the virus started to slow down. Vaccinations became regular worldwide. The government supported masks and social distancing in all cities and gatherings. People began to drift apart, to separate from the crowds they enjoyed so much. The world put communication on halt as it rapidly searched for a cure to humanity’s sickness. Eventually one was found, but not before the virus claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians. The world began to reopen; the threat of death hung in the air, but people remained sick and tired of wearing the masks. Schools, communities, and cities began to make masking optional, freeing those who were fed up with the ordeal. And yet, those who are so hurried to remove their bindings are often those who are the most vulnerable. 

Masks were first “recommended” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 3, 2022 following the first clear signs of outbreak across the US. Initially, when the COVID panic first began to hit, the federal government argued against people wearing masks in public places, as they believed it would exacerbate the reputation of and worry caused by the virus. Soon after the full extent of the outbreak hit the US, the federal government reversed its decision and soon strongly advised the wearing of masks in all areas of public activity. A poll taken in the fall of 2020 showed a vast difference between the Democratic and Republican view on masking; many opposed to masking labelled it as an infringement on their personal liberties and fought against it.

In early 2021, pretty much as soon as Biden stepped foot in the office, mask mandates were instituted and the US began to take serious action against the rapidly spreading pandemic. When the vaccine finally appeared around the same time, society began to take an upward trend in combat against the virus, with mandatory masking and required vaccinations in certain areas. People weren’t allowed to congregate outside of family, and social distancing became a huge subject. However, while the virus began to fade, for the time being, so did many physical connections between people. Children born and going to school during the pandemic were greeted by faceless entities rather than humans they could communicate with. This caused an outcry of complaints from people across the country, calling for an end to masking in schools.

Eventually, in early 2022, a full two years after the pandemic was first unleashed upon the world, masking became optional again, and people started to see each other. A bill passed by a Virginian governor deemed requiring masks in school to be unconstitutional. In other situations, records of COVID vaccinations were enough to get a person into whatever crowded area they wanted, regardless of the rapid mutations the virus underwent. 

Finally, on April 19, 2022, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the federal mask mandate requiring masking on aeroplanes and other forms of public transportation. This Florida judge upended years of mandating across the globe with one simple shut down. While this may seem relatively inconsequential as it only directly affects Florida, basically all flights across the country are included in this shutdown. The mandate was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge, and so cannot be enforced anywhere in the US.

The Pandemic will die out, it will fade away as all things eventually do. But it requires safe guidelines for all. Aeroplanes remain one of the most efficient and widespread carriers of viruses, and the regulations need to be taken seriously. I, for one, understand the desire to remove masks. Communication is certainly essential, especially in younger grades where children are growing up stunted by lack of facial understanding, but in such high concentration areas, vaccinations and masks should be worn by more than just the occasional germaphobe. The pandemic needs to be taken seriously or it will never fade from our lives. We must be responsible enough to know when it is time to suffer through and do what needs to be done and when it is time to celebrate because we have finally succeeded.