Mask requirements causing controversy

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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The CDC has been recommending that people wear masks when around others. That includes places like grocery stores or gas stations where it's difficult to maintain a safe distance.

Yet mask wearing has prompted plenty of controversy.

Some say it restricts freedom, while others say those who don't wear them are being selfish.

States are putting requirements and recommendations in place for the public's health and safety. Among those are requirements to wear masks.

Doctors say wearing one can reduce the spread of coronavirus. However, not everyone is on board.

"It's a good idea. If somebody is somewhat immune deficient, it'll help them from getting coronavirus," said Bismarck Resident Bruce Schmautz.

"I see a lot of folks wear masks. They'll walk past you and take off running. It doesn't matter. I mean, if you're going to get sick, you're going to get sick," said Bismarck resident Rodney Webb.

Health care providers say this is the first time in U.S. history the government has endorsed the use of widespread mask wearing.

"The recommendation for widespread masks came when we understood the significance of the amount of virus that was being spread even by breathing," said Dr. Joan Connell, field medical officer for the ND Dept of Health and leader of the COVID-19 Physician Advisory Group.

However, mask-wearing has sparked controversy across social media. Opinions now seeping out into the real world--impacting the choices people make every day. The debate, circulating around personal rights.

"It's freedom. You have the right to do whatever you want to do in the world. If they don't want you in their store without a mask on, you don't have to go to their store," said Webb.

"Stores usually like you to have them on the way it seems. It's not really taking your right away or telling you that you have to. They're just suggesting it," said Schmautz.

Connell says the choice to wear one is up to you.

"In general, people don't like to be told what to do. And, that applies to masks as well," said Connell.

But, she says it might be an action that saves someone's life.

"When we choose to wear a mask, we limit the viral load that is secreted from our breaths. So it really is a heroic thing to do, when you're putting others' lives before yourselves," said Connell.

Connell says that even if you don't have symptoms of COVID-19, you should still wear a mask in public in case you are carrying the virus and are asymptomatic.

The state of North Dakota currently requires only personal care services employees to wear a mask.

However, the governor recommends everyone else to wear face coverings in settings where social distancing might be difficult.

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