Is It Worth Wearing a Mask If You’re the Only One Doing It?

Is It Worth Wearing a Mask If You’re the Only One Doing It?
Photo: Anuchit kamsongmueang, Shutterstock

It’s becoming rarer and rarer to see masks when you go out. If you live in a place where people were once good about masking up, chances are only a handful still do it. If your area is one where masks were rare to start with, I’d bet you haven’t seen a masked face in a while. But the pandemic isn’t over, and more than a few people who evaded the virus for over two years are now coming down with a cough. So is it worth putting a mask back on even if no one else is? Yeah, I’d say so.

Masks still work

The facts about wearing a mask have not changed. If everybody in a room wears a mask, that room is safer for an unmasked person who happens to be there. But even if you are the only one wearing a mask — on an aeroplane, let’s say — your mask still protects you.

Cloth masks provide a small amount of protection. Loose-fitting surgical masks are perhaps a bit better. But the best protection is with a well-fitted N95 or similar mask. I still wear one when I shop or travel. (I did get COVID recently, but I caught it from a family member who is not as conscientious about mask wearing.)

As so many of us are finding out, you can be vaccinated and boosted and still catch COVID. Your illness is likely to be a lot less severe than an unvaccinated person’s, but it’s no fun to be sick and it’s still a gamble when it comes to complications like long COVID.

It sucks that we can no longer rely on getting much protection from others. But high quality masks are still available, and they still work. If you’re concerned about catching COVID — as you probably should be — it’s not a bad idea to keep your mask on.

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