What a proposed US “mask mandate” could mean for the production and distribution of N95 Respirators

It was during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic that people first came in close contact with the word “respirator or mask” and after that particular moment, there has been no going back. It was very hard for the people and government of America to cope with the occurrence of this sudden pandemic that steered things south for the country and its people in more than one way. While the country was facing an extreme shortage of PPE such as the N95 and surgical masks-there were a lot of people who were reluctant to wear masks and were even protesting on the streets for their right to “not wearing a mask”.

According to various studies, wearing a mask could have decreased the number of cases in the country by a long shot. Since donning a mask and social distancing are the only two methods that can protect a person from contracting this novel virus, it was crucial for everyone in the country to abide by these two safety precautions. However, for the longest time, the people of America refused to wear a mask. And as a result, the country’s death rate by COVID was deemed as the eighth highest in the world. But despite all this, some people still choose to remain in their bubbles and continue with their refusal of wearing a mask.

The people with anti-mask views back their reasoning by saying that wearing a mask restricts an individual from voicing their opinions openly and also that a mask-mandate is undemocratic and useless because masks are unable to protect against this virus. However, the public agency CDC holds a different view and according to them-face coverings is a must for everyone and especially the ones who are asymptomatic.

A face covering doesn’t necessarily have to an N95 mask, although N95 masks are the more recommended face mask due to their effective protection against the coronavirus disease, since N95 masks are more essential to the healthcare workers, the public should go for other options like cloth masks, hand-made masks or even a bandanna would suffice in the current circumstances.

In many states, a masks mandate has been imposed already and as of July 27, 2020—31 of the 50 states in the USA have been officially ordered to wear masks.

Mask mandate and N95 masks

If one were to assume for a second that if the mask-mandate rule was imposed country-wide, what would its effect on the N95 masks be? Well, it’s to predict a future that is most probably unlikely to happen but based on previous events, here’s what can be reckoned of the future of N95 masks in the mask-mandate USA:

Production

Since N95s are the preferred choice of everyone seeking protection against the deadly disease, it has been advised by organizations such as the WHO that N95s should be reserved for healthcare and other frontline workers only. In addition, the public should opt for masks such as cloth masks or a home-made mask or a surgical mask. But that hasn’t stopped the public from buying and wearing N95 masks. Moreover, we also witnessed the immense surge in the popularity of this mask after the pandemic began and also an increase in its pricing. N95s were also extremely valuable for the USA because of the rise in the COVID-19 cases each day which further added to the demand for this mask. In conclusion, it is quite a known fact that N95s are valuable assets at the present moment, if masks were made mandatory, it would be an indication of the fact that the virus is again getting out of hand which could create panic among the masses. And when people are in a state of anxiety, they grab onto whatever object they think will be a shield for them. And in this particular case, N95 masks are what people will think of as shields. Once again, the demand for N95s could skyrocket and their production will have to increase to keep up with the demand, or the people will get to watch the 2nd episode of the mask and respirator shortage.

Distribution

An increase in the N95s popularity also means that we may also get to witness a shortage of these respirators again in the market and this could also deprive the healthcare workers of their right to N95. If people start buying N95s like crazy again, there would be no N95s left for the medical workers which could contribute to another surge in the cases. The government might have to ban the purchase of N95 masks for the general public in this case to ensure the availability of these respirators for the medical staff.

Conclusion

A mask-mandate is a threat for the supporters of the anti-mask movement as the imposition of this order isn’t going to spare anyone. But again, this also depends on the extent to which the states will be complying with this official order. Many states have already witnessed a mask-mandate but still, some rebels aren’t complying with this order. A mask-mandate could also potentially increase the popularity of N95s which could complicate things further for the producers of these masks and also the health care workers. To sum it up simply, a mask-mandate could spiral things out of order for the country.

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