As a member of the vulnerable age group I have noted with interest the ongoing debate about masks in the Letters to the Editor and the media in general. It seems to boil down to those who believe they have a duty to the community to promote public health vs. those who believe there is little risk from the coronavirus and individual choice is more important.

I have come to the conclusion that those who wish for greater compliance are focusing on the wrong issue. In order to persuade those who resist wearing a mask, we need to appeal to their self-interest from the economic standpoint. For the younger generation who wants to go to a bar and drink, the requirement to repeatedly shut down due to high numbers of community outbreaks from such establishments may well put your favorite bar out of business. Closing, reopening, and closing again is very difficult to manage financially and logistically. Your friends and recent classmates may suffer long-term job loss and the owner may lose his business, so if you can’t relate to people with fear about contracting the virus, perhaps you can relate to harm caused to the unemployed. You may also be motivated by the threat of continued delays in professional sports.

For the older generation, the impact on the economy of failing to wear masks is having the opposite effect of that desired. The economy can safely reopen only if citizens adhere to the safety guidelines. As reported this week, Goldman Sachs projects that failure to institute a national mandatory mask rule will negatively impact GDP by 5%. This will eventually overcome the irrational exuberance in the stock market and hit the value of portfolios held by the older naysayers.

Bottom line, if you refuse to comply because you care about others, do it because it promotes your own interests. Then we may all come through this pandemic more quickly and more safely.

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