What is revealed when Americans take off their masks

(CNN) — When the celebrity inside the Jack in the Box costume on Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was revealed Wednesday, it wasn’t Joe Pesci, Robert Duvall, Elon Musk or Al Roker, as the judges had assumed.

Instead, to the dismay of many, including some of the judges, the man who sang the 1982 hit “Bad to the Bone” was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recently made headlines for his extreme efforts to support the false former President Donald Trump’s voter fraud narrative. How I know asked the Daily Beast: “What did we do to deserve this?”

The ridiculous moment punctuated a week of unmasking, not just on the show, but across the country.

Protection was the goal in January 2021, when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that masks would be mandatory for passengers on airplanes and public transportation. But on Monday, shortly after a federal judge struck down the transportation mask mandate, airlines stopped requiring them and many passengers stopped wearing them.

Those strips of cloth helped protect millions of passengers from Covid-19, but they failed to mask divisions in the United States, which seem broader than ever in the third year of the pandemic. Instead, masks have become cultural symbols and self-imposed personal statements in a country where lockdowns have loosened the personal ties between us.

The fact that the ruling against the mask mandate came from a Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida — and labeled “unqualified” by the American Bar Association — was not lost on critics of the ruling.

District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s decision, wrote Jill Philippovic, “seems to usurp public health guidance while failing to understand science or the English language.” The federal government, she maintained, is only authorized to deal with issues related to “sanitation,” which she says is limited to “measures that clean something up.” Since wearing a mask does not clean anything, she wrote, mask mandates are outside the scope of government authority.”

All of this is incredibly dangerous.: A right-wing judge doesn’t like a government rule and strikes it down for incredibly misleading reasons,” Filipovic wrote.

Illustration that in Spanish says “You can’t force us to put on those masks either.”

Infectious disease expert Dr. Kent Sepkowitz argued that maintaining the mask mandate would be prudent given the continued spread of the coronavirus, but also pointed to the strain it causes in the air. On an airplane, he wrote, “nothing is private; everything is shared, even the filtered air. Out of deference to those around us, we stifle our whining at airline staff, minimize our walks with neighbors down the aisle, resist jumping jacks, or – above all – work hard to avoid coughing, because all of this it can affect others in our small and inescapable aviation community.

“This life together, however brief, is unpleasant for everyone. Adding a mask mandate to it…seems to have tipped a segment of the zealots of mask and vaccine resistance into a fierce, even violent, uncivilized disobedience The trend is bad enough to have drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and, in the case of some particularly unruly passengers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FAA received 1,150 reports of unruly passengers, of which 744 were related to the use of masks.”

Illustration that in Spanish says "To tell you the truth, I too have a bit of post-pandemic stress".

Illustration that in Spanish says “To tell the truth, I also have a little post-pandemic stress.”

Some experts question the actual effectiveness of the mask mandates. In The New York Times, david leonhardt wrote: “Unfortunately, the United States has spent much of the last two years with the worst of all worlds when it comes to masks. People have been required to wear them for hours on end, provoking frustration and exhaustion and exacerbating political polarization. However, the rules have included enough exceptions to let covid spread anyway. The burden of the mandates has been relatively high, while the benefits have been relatively low. It’s the opposite of what a successful public health campaign usually does.”

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