unrecognizable multiethnic friends in masks standing in subway train
Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Earlier this week, after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the CDC had overstepped its authority in requiring Americans to wear masks when traveling by air, bus or train, it only took a few hours for leaders in the industry to give the green light to their customers.

Amtrak, Delta, American Airlines, Uber, Greyhound – even locally-based transportation companies like Metro here in the greater Washington area – quickly revised their policies, allowing customers to make the decision to wear a mask or not.

Some people have chosen to continue to mask up in order to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 while also protecting others around them should they be positive but unaware that they have already been infected. As reporters spoke with Americans, it seemed that the vast majority were delighted to be free from wearing masks – or at least required to do so.

According to one report, people on airplanes were so ecstatic that they cheered, ripping their masks off and inhaling deeply as if they had been struggling to breathe while wearing those “cursed masks.”

But we are not convinced that a federal judge has the knowledge to advise Americans about whether we should or should not continue to be required to wear masks in such public spaces like airplanes, or trains or buses. It seems that such a decision should be made by those who have medical training, knowledge and experience. And while many have attempted to politicize the issue of mask mandates, it should not be left in the hands of politicians or judges who lack the essential knowledge required.

Of course we are all weary after battling this pandemic for more than two years. Yes, we all want to return to normal. Sure, we would rather frolic joyfully as if the pandemic had come to an end. But it has not. In fact, if we study the trajectory of viruses and pandemics that have struck our planet over the last several thousand years, we know that more variants will be detected and more people will be infected. Some, correction, many will die.

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the protagonist of the play pondered his future and posed the following phrase: “to be or not to be, that is the question.”

But when considering the reality that COVID-19 is still alive and well, to mask or not to mask should NOT be the question.

However, if it is the question, it should be answered by someone who can provide more than just an uninformed opinion.

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