EDITORIAL – To wear a mask, or to not wear a mask – that is the question

(Image: CDC, USA)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.


Early on in the pandemic, we were told not to bother wearing a mask unless we were sick. A mask might help stop us from spreading the virus, but would be of no use in protecting us from others.

Unless the mask was of medical quality it wouldn’t do any good anyway, we were told.

But that tune has changed dramatically in recent days. Federal top doc Theresa Tam and her B.C. counterpart Dr. Bonnie Henry are suddenly advising us to wear anything that resembles a mask.

By now we’ve all seen those videos of a face cloth or old T-shirt being folded up with a couple of elastic bands and — voila — becoming a serviceable face mask. No sewing machine needed.

But don’t wear a medical-quality or N95 mask because those are needed by healthcare workers.
According to Dr. Tam, the new recommendation comes after studying transmission from infected people without symptoms. But wouldn’t it have been smart to start wearing them right away? If coughing into our elbows helps stop the spread, wouldn’t a mask — any mask — help?

Surely we didn’t need science to tell us that.

While the message about the wearing of masks has changed dramatically, the experts continue to say it’s a one-way proposition — they won’t protect us from other people’s COVID19-saturated spit when they sneeze, cough or even breathe or talk.

I wish someone would explain that. Common sense tells us the virus can get in through our eyes and ears even if we’ve got a mask on but I’d like confirmation.

So, should we wear a mask, or not? The precautionary principle says yes. Though this isn’t a scientific observation, I’m pretty sure wearing one, at the least, won’t hurt.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8316 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – To wear a mask, or to not wear a mask – that is the question

  1. John Noakes // April 7, 2020 at 7:15 AM // Reply

    Interesting question, Mel.
    I wonder what the policy and procedures are at the EOC for the City of Kamloops?
    The people who are there likely come and go to and from home, make contact with others in their own homes and then come back to the EOC to have meetings and make policies.
    If they share any of the same space at seating positions, keypads or telephones, one would think that keeping the oral bodily fluids inside a mask would be desirable.
    Chief Sutherland or Mayor Ken could be asked and give us an answer.

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