Mask Up, or Stay Home

By guest author Karen McIntyre, Editor of Roadman Media

As we went to press, Lydall, one of the U.S.’s leading makers of meltblown nonwovens, had announced it had received a $13.5 million government contract to support investments that will help expand its supply to the face mask market. The contract will help fund investment in a two-line expansion in Rochester, NH, which will significantly accelerate the company’s ability to supply critical material needed to make N95 respirators and surgical masks.

The U.S. government’s decision to help boost supply of meltblown material comes at a time when face masks have become a political issue—at least in the U.S. where we have a president who refuses to wear a mask (at least in public) despite the advice of infectious disease experts and criticism from members of both political parties. Meanwhile, throughout the U.S., where cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in many states many people simply refuse to wear a mask.

This week of July 6, 2020 in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo reversed a decision to allow indoor dining to resume, saying that “storm clouds” are on the horizon as people cease social distancing and fail to take other precautions like wearing a mask. New York, once the epicenter of the U.S. Coronavirus crisis, has made significant advances in flattening the curve but many fear that the cases will begin rising again as people become less vigilant.

According to experts, when worn properly face masks are the best way to avoid contracting Covid-19 when out in public. And even though they can be somewhat inconvenient and uncomfortable, masks are an easy way to protect yourself and others from the disease and hopefully slow the rate of infection globally.

As mask production continues to rise in the U.S., thanks to the efforts of Lydall and other nonwovens producers like Ahlstrom-Munksjö, Hollingsworth & Vose, Johns Manville and Suominen, to name a few, citizens have no excuse not to “mask up” in public. In many cities and states, in fact, wearing a mask is required, not suggested, but in others legislation regarding face masks has been met with massive resistance and low enforcement.

Why something that is so simple and so likely to help others, and hopefully help life to return to normal, is being resisted is baffling. Has the current political climate in the U.S. become so partisan that anything can be turned into a political debate? Let’s hope not.

As the mask debate has gained steam, many public figures have offered up pleas to the public to just a wear a mask to help save lives and allow shops and businesses to reopen. Why not? The nonwovens industry has always known of the power that filter media have in protecting people from outside elements. Isn’t it time everyone else catches on?