UTA community split on wearing masks beyond pandemic

Face masks have become a staple in the lives of many Americans throughout the last year. While the mask mandate was officially lifted March 10, UTA and many stores still require them.

Gov. Greg Abbott first mandated mask-wearing in most Texas counties in July, meeting significant disapproval from many residents.

With vaccines currently being distributed to the public, some are wondering what the new normal will look like and when masks are going to disappear, if at all. 

From April to June 2020, Etsy made $346 million from face mask sales alone, according to a second-quarter 2020 report. Both the revenue and residual concern may allow masks to become a part of daily life post-pandemic.

While some students don’t mind wearing a mask post-pandemic, others are less willing.

Public health junior Alexandria Cameron is fully vaccinated but still plans to continue wearing a mask.

Other more dangerous strands of the virus are still going around, Cameron said. Just because she might be safe from one strand doesn’t mean she’s safe from the other. 

Health officials recently identified a more contagious United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus in Tarrant County. 

Everyone reacts differently to the virus, and Cameron doesn’t want to risk getting anyone else sick, she said.

Cameron thinks that even after the pandemic has died down and most people are vaccinated, the concept of normalizing casual mask-wearing is something she finds intriguing.

She also said on days when she looks like a hot mess and doesn’t want anyone to recognize her, it would be nice to have the option of wearing a mask as a fashion statement. If you have a “bad face day” or acne, the mask can help cover it, and no one will even know.

Exercise science senior Sokret Sathit believes as of now, healthy adults shouldn’t be required to wear masks, but those who want to should. The best way to protect yourself is not to be around a lot of people, he said.

Sathit said if he doesn’t have to wear a mask, then he doesn’t plan to.

As a gymnastics coach, he’s seen firsthand how masks and social distancing have affected athletics. People are less connected because of it, and the whole point of sports is to bring people together, he said.

Spanish senior Austin Byboth has a similar opinion to Sathit. He said that he wouldn’t mind the masks’ potential normalization as long as he wasn’t forced to wear them himself.

It would get tiring having to wear a mask to Target for the rest of his life, and it wouldn’t be something he would appreciate having to do since he said he prioritizes his health and is careful about his decisions.

Byboth said he doesn’t think there should be a stigma against wearing masks, and those with serious health risks should stay home if possible.

Vocal performance sophomore Ana Caballero wears a mask for the safety of those around her and herself.

She said that even after she gets the vaccine, she would consider wearing it for the comfort of others. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they’re vaccinated or not, Caballero said.

She said the potential normalization of masks post-pandemic is great because it’ll prevent other viruses from spreading, especially during flu season. She believes it’ll become normalized to wear a mask around when feeling ill.

But when the pandemic starts to die down, and more people are vaccinated, Caballero said she will stop wearing a mask.

Sometimes political leaders don’t endorse masks, which might be why some people are against it, she said.

Currently, choosing to wear a mask in public or not can signal to others what your political affiliation is, Byboth said.

Caballero thinks that fewer people will wear masks after the pandemic, and it will be more difficult to guess the political affiliation of others through the choice.

She hopes the change will result in less tension and prejudice and finally get rid of some of the division between groups.

@aivylinaa

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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