The Mask Tug of War

Megan Reese, Editor-In-Chief

   On Saturday, Nov. 20, the mask mandate in Montgomery County was reinstated due to seven consecutive days of “substantial” COVID-19 transmission. The last few months have been very confusing for MoCo residents, as the mandate has been lifted and re-instated multiple times. 

   Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the Maryland state-wide mask mandate on May 15, 2021, and it has not been reinstated since, yet Montgomery County put theirs back into effect in August. Although most people weren’t too thrilled to put the masks back on after having an entire summer without them, the people of Montgomery County obliged. 

   In late October, the mask mandate was lifted after the county achieved seven consecutive days of “moderate” transmission. People finally seemed to see a light at the end of the tunnel, until the confusion quickly spread. The rising number in cases begged the question if the county would bring back the mandate just days after it was lifted. This kind of unpredictability was harmful for businesses, who have been struggling through the pandemic for over a year and a half. Tammy Shifflett Frost, a member of the Damascus Town Center Facebook group, stated that just 10 minutes up the street lies Frederick County, where there is no mask mandate. Frost believes reinstatement of the mandate “takes money away from small businesses in MoCo and drops in the laps of Frederick business owners.” 

   The flip-flopping of a mask mandate also seems to be happening prematurely according to some Damascus locals. Sophia Swift claims it “confuses people” and makes the county look “weak at some angle” due to the switches back and forth “without having any results.” Many people in town seemed to agree with this opinion. 

   Although it may be confusing to locals, some are happy to make the switches as they come. Jennifer Kilroy Isley, Damascus resident, says, “it’s not hard to wear a mask,” and she feels it’s “a silly thing to complain about.” Another local, Carly Schreiner, believes it comes down to “a question of morality.” Schreiner’s opinion is that masks benefit “the greater good and potentially prevent unnecessary death and suffering” and that it is a “small sacrifice to fight a huge population health crisis.”