While there is no longer any scientific doubt that wearing face masks mitigates the incidence of coronavirus cases, the controversy surrounding their use has been politicized by some whose motives go beyond the welfare of our people, especially the most vulnerable among us. Wearing face masks is a health issue not a political issue yet face masks have become a divisive political statement. Those who wear them are taken as left leaning, liberal and democrat while those who do not are seen as right leaning, conservative and republican. Meanwhile, the 800-1,000 people who die each day as we experience a rapid resurgence of this disease are testament that covid-19 pays no attention to politics.

The covid-19 pandemic threatens to spiral out of control in the United States, the new epicenter of this disease. By mid-July 2020, there were approximately 3.5 million cases and 140,000 deaths attributed to covid-19 in the US. This accounts for approximately 25 per cent of all cases and deaths worldwide, despite the fact that the US has only five percent of the world’s population.

Politicizing our national health crisis beg the questions: Who are we as a nation? Has the recent political mantra of some advanced from “America First” to “Me First”? Have we become a nation in pursuit of self-interest without adequate consideration of the common good of all?

For people of good will, the answers to these questions must be no!

We have allowed our country to politicize humanity, to make caring for one another a partisan issue. We wear face masks to protect others in the same way we reject systemic racism to ensure health and equality for all. We cannot continue to allow human decency and caring about our neighbors to be swallowed by politics and partisanship.

Face masks should be seen for what they are – a health aid and a proven benefit to decreasing the transmission of the coronavirus. The self-interested actions of those who have politicized mask-wearing over the common good of all tear at the moral fiber of this country. In doing so, they have contributed to the recent and dramatic rise of coronavirus cases in this country and, with it, the inevitable increase in hospitalizations and deaths that bring tragedies to our families and that threaten to once again overwhelm our health care system.

Our national leadership has failed to provide a plan and the encouragement necessary to overcome this crisis. While there was a time when other countries looked to US policy as a beacon of light in the midst of turmoil, they are now looking away. We, the people of this country, must now assume that leadership.

Let us rise to the occasion and transmit a message of hope and the resolve to bear the necessary burdens to defeat this scourge of our time by rejecting the politicization of a health issue. Let us show our better selves and live for the common good of all by following the guidelines offered by our scientific community and not the whim of those who just wish the problem would go away.