by Kay-Lynn M. Bailey
Since the Coronavirus pandemic invaded the United States, the populace has been subject to changing current situations. Homes have become offices and schools, restaurants have adapted into take-out facilities, entertainment services have moved further into the digital streams, and public areas are subjected to pandemic guidelines in hopes of remaining in business. Governmental mandates outline preventative measures against COVID-19; be it wear a mask, social distance, or refuse large gatherings. Daily life is quite different from the normalcy of yesteryears. While most citizens follow the policies put in place, what are their actual thoughts on the guidelines? Mask recommendations, social distancing qualifications, and further preventative measures are the subject of the following socially distanced, anonymous interviews recorded on March 7, 2021.
When the interviewees were questioned in their understanding of the current mask situation, their answers were varied. When asked if they thought masks were effective, both Interviewee 1 and joint interviewees 2 stated that they did find masks effective in the prevention of COVID-19. Then, if asked if only certain types of masks were sufficient, Interviewee 1 stated that the functionality of the apparel was not their expertise. Interviewees 2 expressed that thicker masks that block the light from a flashlight are more effective than thinner masks. Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., an expert in infection prevention, explains that masks are effective in the prevention of Coronavirus, but that bandannas, gaiters, and masks with valves are not sufficient due to their openings of thin material. Maragakis states that a “mask made with at least two layers of fabric” that “cover your nose and mouth without large gaps” is best for the average citizen, and adjustable versions are available for those with issues or glasses. She also conveys that “professional masks should be reserved for health care workers caring for patients on the front lines.”
Then, when the interviewees were asked “In Colorado, a mask mandate has been in effect since July 2020. To your best understanding or guesstimate, what percentage of the populace continuously wears a mask in public areas?”, their answers varied. Interviewee 1 simply answered that their best guess was about 40% of the populace, on a national level, would wear masks continuously in public areas. Conversely, Interviewees 2 stated that in Colorado specifically, the average is about 80-90% of the populace would wear masks. But, they also stated that in states akin to Florida or Texas, the percentage would be quite lower. In a study published in December 2020 titled “KFF Health Tracking Poll,” 73% of the population attested to always wearing a mask outside, with 16% attesting for most of the time. The result was 89% of citizens vouching for their self-conducting mask habits.
Next, the interviewees were questioned about possible locations of discomfort where minimal social distancing was taking place. Interviewee 1 listed that they are uncomfortable in airports, airplanes, restaurants, and entertainment venues due to the general lack of social distancing. In the article “Travel During COVID-19” by the CDC, it is stated that “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air is circulated and filtered on airplanes.” However, due to the unavailability of space, social distancing in airports and airplanes is difficult and long travel times could cause risk of transmission to the passengers. Interviewees 2 expressed discomfort in large stores, like Walmart, where at the beginning of the lockdown shoppers would not obey direction arrows on the ground or provide enough space to properly social distance. However, the interviewees did attest to smaller stores, like Walgreens and dollar tree, having efficiently adopted guidelines and precautions. In the article “What Safe Shopping Look Like During the Pandemic” by Robert Shumsky and Laurens Debo, it is explained that stores were required to change from their normal practices. Shoppers are encouraged to browse and purchase quicker to make room for other customers. Furthermore, employees have become enforcers to the guidelines, but not every patron respects the policies.
The fourth question posed to the interviewees was “In Colorado, there have been 440,220 cases of COVID-19, which is about 7.6% of the Coloradoan population. Where do you think we rank in the nation in regards to the most states with Coronavirus cases?” All interviewees attested for Colorado stating that it was in the lower bracket of the ranking and that Coloradans have been smart and conscious about COVID-19 almost from the beginning. In the article “States ranked by COVID-19 cases: March 10” by Erica Carbajal from Becker’s Hospital Review, Colorado was placed 39th out of 50 with 7,649 cases per 100,000 people and a population of 5.8 million. This means that Colorado is 78% better than most states at containing the spread of the Coronavirus. North Dakota is first with 13,194 cases per 100,000 people and a population of 762,062 residents while Hawaii is last with 1,971 cases per 100,000 people and a population of 1.4 million.
The final question asked to the interviewees was “In addition to the policies we already have applied, what preventative measures do you think the country should be taking to combat the Coronavirus?” Interviewee 1 simply stated the government should implement “uniform state policies across the entire nation.” However, due to the combative nature between the states currently seen today, it seems an unlikely action. Interviewees 2 praised outreach efforts in Alaska where information and vaccine were delivered by snowmobiles and vans. They also commented that more action needs to be taken to increase awareness and vaccinations in rural and underdeveloped areas. In the response information published by the Biden Administration on January 21, 2021, future coronavirus preventative measures include the mounting of a safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign; mitigating the COVID-19 spread through expanding masking, testing, treatment, data, workforce, and clear public health standards; and protecting those most at risk along with advancing equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
The guidelines enacted in order the protect the populace from the coronavirus are viewed differently from the perspectives of each citizen. There are those who support the effort, and those that refuse the precautions. The daily lives of each citizen have been changed by the impacts of the pandemic. To prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the use of a thick-material or double-layered mask is recommended, practice social distancing in every situation possible for the safety of those around you, and spread information about COVID-19 occurrences and vaccines to those in need.
The Biden Administration. “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.” The White House, Jan. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19 -Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf.
Carbajal, Erica. “States Ranked by COVID-19 Cases: March 10.” Becker’s Hospital Review, 10 Mar. 2021, www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/states-ranked-by-confirmed-COVID-19-cases-july-1.html#:~:text=North%20Dakota%20has%20the%20most,by%20The%20New%20York%20Times.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center. “Guidance for Wearing Masks.” Colorado COVID-19 Updates, 8 Mar. 2021, covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance#:~:text=A%20mandatory%20mask%2Dwearing,be %20extended%20if%20necessary.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado COVID-19 Data.” COVID, 12 Mar. 2021, covid19.colorado.gov/data.
Lopes, Lunna, et al. “KFF Health Tracking Poll – December 2020: COVID-19 and Biden’s Health Care Agenda.” KFF, 18 Dec. 2020, www.kff.org/coronavirus-COVID-19/report/kff-health-tracking-poll-december-2020/.
Maragakis, Lisa Lockerd. “Coronavirus Face Masks & Protection FAQs.” Coronavirus Face Masks: Types & When to Use | Johns Hopkins Medicine, 29 Jan. 2021, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-facemasks-what-you-need-to-know.
Shumsky, Robert, and Laurens Debo. “What Safe Shopping Looks Like During the Pandemic.” Harvard Business Review, 24 July 2020, hbr.org/2020/07/what-safe-shopping-looks-like-during-the-pandemic.
“Travel During COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Feb. 2021, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html#:~:text=Most%20viruses%20and%20other%20germs,getting%20COVID%2D19.