My turn, Tarik Woods: Sen. Ford shares misinformation about masks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

By Tarik Woods

Recently, our NC District 33 Sen. Carl Ford shared a headline from The Hill written by Joseph Guzman that claimed the World Health Organization had no evidence that wearing a facemask would reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 or other respiratory ailments.

This spread of misinformation is coming from the same senator who has introduced a measure allowing citizens to violate, without penalty, the stay-at-home orders issued by our governor.

I cannot put into words the disappointment I have towards the actions of Sen. Ford over a variety of issues, but this may be the most unsettling. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention blatantly states that this virus can be contracted and spread even in the absence of symptoms. There is no way of truly knowing if any person in public that we may just pass by has been in contact with or had ever contracted COVID-19 or any other fast-spreading virus. The center recommends wearing a cloth face cover while around others and continuing our social distancing measures.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not a state-by-state issue. This is purely a life-saving issue. Our government’s public health officials recommend wearing protective face coverings to prevent contracting and spreading this disease. The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, who garners immense support from Sen. Ford, has admittedly said he was at fault for not wearing face coverings in public settings.

I am not one, in the slightest, to promote a position of this White House but at the very least their recommendation of wearing masks in public areas is right. After this recommendation, 74% of registered Democrats, 56% of Republicans and 54% of independents across the nation have begun wearing face masks to protect themselves and their loved ones, according to a YouGov poll. About 82% of all Americans believe public health officials and agree that wearing a face mask is “at least somewhat effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

We each have a responsibility to ensure, to the best of our ability, the protection of life of our fellow citizens. The Centers for Disease Control is correct. We should be wearing these masks to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Can one truly argue that they want our state to reopen in the most safe way possible and then share misleading headlines, especially when Rowan County is one of the most affected by this outbreak in North Carolina?

The WHO has claimed that they have not conducted a study yet to show that face masks keep others healthy; however, if our government’s public health officials are showing promising signs of limiting the number of people contracting the virus through wearing face masks, why wouldn’t we heed their warning? We are asking health care workers across the nation and world to put their lives on the line to protect us from this silent attacker. How ungrateful does one have to be to actively tell the populace to ignore the pleas of health professionals?

Unless the senator has volunteered to primarily screen all people the rest of us come into contact with over the course of the next few months without wearing a face mask, he should not be spreading information that puts more people at risk. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Wear a face mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.

Tarik Woods is a member of the UNC Chapel Hill class of 2020 and a graduate of Salisbury High School.