Medical professionals stress importance of face masks in wake of WA new mandate effective Friday

Starting Friday, it will be a government mandate for everyone to wear a face covering in public settings. This announcement has caused some controversy among people who feel it should be their person choice whether or not they wear a mask.

"I think the problem is we have politicized this whole mask issue," says Dr. Dan Diamond, an assistant clinical professor at WSU's medical school.  Diamond said he thinks about the issue of wearing masks in public like this, saying "we have laws that say you have to wear clothes in public, and seeing somebody naked isn't going to kill me, but not wearing a mask could."

Dr. Diamond says his choice to wear one is simple.

"It's not about me.  Wearing a mask is what I do to keep the people safe around me, it's not about me, especially if it's just a cloth mask, they're not that effective in keeping me from the getting the virus, but they're very effective from keeping me from spraying the virus as I speak," Diamond stated.

"This would be a completely different conversation if people didn't get contagious until they got the symptoms, then I'd say don't wear a mask whatever if you're sick stay home, but there's this window where people get infected, spread the virus, and then get symptoms, and it's that phase that is the danger phase."

Bill Taraday is considered high risk for COVID due to his age.

"The best man in my wedding died from COVID-19 so it has already struck pretty close to home," Taraday said.

Bill isn't sure if people who are against wearing a mask realize how much their choice could affect him, or people like his 14-year-old grandson who has a medical condition that puts him at high-risk.

"I do think that it is possible to be so self centered that you're only worried about your own freedom, your own liberty, your own acceptance of the mask, when in actuality, this is a community problem and I believe it takes a community effort to get it under control," noted Taraday.

That's a sentiment shared by nursing student, Hanna Sheppard.

"If you're at the grocery store, you could casually pass someone who doesn't look sick, however they could just be finishing a chemo treatment, or like myself, who's immune compromised and you can't tell someone might not have the ability to fight the virus , but by simply passing them and breathing out you could infect them," said Sheppard.

Sheppard is immune compromised, which puts her at a higher risk of getting the virus and higher risk of not being able to fight it off. She hopes instead of people focusing on wearing a mask a personal choice, they'll consider this.

"When it comes to possibly giving someone this virus that they can't fight off or that they cant fully recover from, I would think that just basic human decency would be to help protect the people that cant protect themselves."