A state-by-state move to mandate the wearing of masks in public will save countless lives as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic, says a health researcher at Ball State University.

“Civil society and business across communities should welcome and embrace these orders,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor in the Ball State College of Health, who noted that Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota are joining a growing number of states requiring face coverings.

He noted that wearing face masks or shields is quickly becoming standard practice across the country.

Irrefutable evidence now exists for the utility of masks. Absent a vaccine or medication, the only solutions we have are wearing a mask and physical distancing,” Khubchandani said. “We now know enough about mode of transmission as well, so its dual evidence — both for spread and for preventive measures such as masks. The largest study to date commissioned by the World Health Organization confirms the benefits of masks.”

Two students chat outdoors on campus while wearing masksThe professor points to recent research on why people may or may not wear a mask:

  • Gender: Men are less likely to wear masks due to shame, guilt, feeling of masculinity, and lower perceived vulnerability to disease.
  • Age: Younger individuals perceive lower risk and have higher risk behaviors than older populations, including not wearing masks.
  • Race: Preliminary reports suggest that there could be differences based on race and ethnicity.
  • Political orientation: People identifying as Republicans are less likely to wear compared to Democrats.

Khubchandani notes that other facts may include employment status, education, and income.

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