Tl;dr Masks can’t hurt. Wear them. But prioritise hand washing, not touching your face, and keeping distance from others.
Unless you’re in the US where shit is out of control. Then wear a mask.
Another of Daniel’s great pieces. Again, the unsafe workplaces of ‘essential workers’ are big contributors to transmission. Rather than focussing on individual responsibility and blame (fines for nonmasking), we need to address workplace safety and equitable wages. If your first (unsafe) job pays too little to feed your family, you’ll get another unsafe job, and double down on your risk.
And can we interrogate the phrase ‘essential work’? If it’s so essential, why is it paid so poorly? The phrase is code for forcing vulnerable people into unsafe work: you _have_ to do it; it’s essential.
But of course, it’s the work that’s considered essential, not the people.
The danger posed by the mask discourse is distraction. A distraction from what we already know, with certainty, about the virus and how it is passed on. From the drivers of this new outbreak, which are still workplaces, social events and family gatherings, most of which involve close and prolonged contact and are not covered by the mask mandate. From what works to control outbreaks, including aggressive contact tracing, testing and isolation. From banning the events and settings where transmission can occur. From dealing with huge gaps in lockdown arrangements that exempt essential workers, even though precarious work arrangements caused this second wave. And from the trust in our public health experts that characterised our early response.