Monday, June 22, 2020

The Battle Over Masks in a Pandemic: An All-American Story

By Lori Rozsa, Chelsea Janes, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach
Daniel Milian, from right, Miguel Martinez and Laura De Armas relax at the seaside in South Beach in the city of Miami Beach on June 19. Their group showed a variable approach to wearing masks. (Scott McIntyre/For The Washington Post)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In this sprawling, heterogeneous country, the pandemic has become yet another thing on which Americans are divided. Mask-wearing for some people is an identifier of broader beliefs and political leanings. Like so many issues rooted in science and medicine, the pandemic is now fully entangled with ideological tribalism. This has played out before: helmets for motorcyclists, seat belts in cars, smoking bans in restaurants. All of those measures provoked battles over personal liberty. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has not made mask-wearing mandatory here in Florida. That’s in sharp contrast with what’s happening more than 2,000 miles away in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday reacted to rising ­caseloads by making ­mask-wearing mandatory. [More]