Houston, TX

Is Masking Up a Political Statement in Small Towns around Houston?

Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Since the beginning of lockdowns and amidst the rising swirls of confusion on protective measures, one thing that's seemed to remain constant is that masks can help protect others from acquiring Coronavirus.

From TV ads to billboards, the motivational phrases to 'mask up' have abounded for nearly a year now to encourage everyone to do their part in the social health frame of this pandemic.

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{Photo credit: Anshua A, unsplash.com}

News coverage of heavily impacted larger cities like New York and Los Angeles are frequently in the news showing the restrictions to businesses being open, as well as the requirements (minimum) for wearing a mask inside a building.

But one trend that's been here from the start is that smaller town businesses have very mixed feelings about the mask guidelines. In smaller towns on the outskirts of the greater Houston area, those guidelines seem to be followed very lax here and there.

And it begs the question: Is this a political statement? Or are people being too self-centered?

One local Montgomery, Texas business owner stated, "I'm fine with not wearing a mask, but I want to be respectful of the people that come into my store, so I wear one when somebody comes in, but if they're fine without it, I'm fine without it."

Others don't share the same sentiment. "I have one hanging on my ears cause Abbott said we gotta wear them, so we have the sign requiring it on the door, too. But I don't agree with requiring people to wear them if they don't want to or don't feel like they're at risk," stated another business owner.

The opposing opinions may sound appalling, but it's actually very common in smaller areas around Houston. And the same sentiment has been repeated all over the country.

Which begs the question: If entire other countries are still on lockdown and require as strict measures as when the COVID outbreak started, what's the deal with the US not abiding by the same standards?

Many believe it has everything to do with the political climate and the agendas of the old and new presidential agendas. And as emotionally charged as that has been the last few years, the supporters of each party feel the need to make a statement. But is it necessary to do it when it involves what could be our only "known" for helping prevent the spread of a pandemic?

That's the big question when it comes to many rural areas in the greater Houston area. Especially with a drop in mask requirements right around the corner. Texas is rumored to be nixing all requirements in the coming week by Governer Abbott, which has some worried.

Others, however, are cheering those efforts on. And it's no surprise with the fluctuating information about what is fact or fiction regarding the spread of COVID. At the moment, we're still being told that masking up can help prevent the spread if one has COVID, but won't prevent you from getting it if someone without a mask has contaminated the area. It's all been a very confusing year in regards to exactly what we're supposed to be doing to help.

Part of the controversy isn't just in the confusion of what's accurate or not. It's also in whether or not it's 'my problem' or 'your problem' to help in that. Many believe in the herd immunity concept and want this over as soon as possible. Others are very concerned about their loved ones or themselves and, mostly out of fear and lack of accurate information, want to be as cautious as possible.

With new cases in Montgomery County, TX peaking in mid-December at over 58,000, we've seen a steady decline, according to the New York Times interactive map of cases. That being said, it's also been repeatedly suggested that cases spike after holidays where gatherings are happening, against recommendations otherwise from officials.

The coming weeks and months will be interesting, if nothing else, as we wait to see what the political opinions offer up in response to the official 'choice' to wear a mask in Texas, rather than the requirement that we've had in the past year.

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My mission is to always find the magic middle where healthy + efficient merge. As a nutrition specialist and certified health coach with a master of science in nutrition, I firmly believe in nourishing the body, mind, and spirit with proper food, rest, movement, and stress management. My mission is to teach people how those CORE 4 things work together, how to do them on the daily, then put them on autopilot.

Montgomery, TX
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