April 22, 2020

Where Are the Keep America Great Face Masks?

Trump virus

Trump is supposed to be some sort of business whiz, right? No, I am not suggesting that this characterization has any basis in reality. I'm just saying it seems to be part of the narrative his supporters have constructed around him. It seems surprising to me that he's missing out on a "yuge" opportunity to make money and to boost his presidential campaign. Had he come out in strong support of everybody wearing reusable cloth face masks (not the medical-grade ones that are still desperately needed by our healthcare workers), he could be selling red "keep America great" masks as fast as his preferred Chinese factory could make them.

This seems so obvious that I really am surprised he missed it. He could have started by stressing the importance of masks in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and then followed that by personally wearing one of these Trump face masks during every public appearance. His followers would have been desperate to get some for themselves. To keep up with the demand, he could have mass-produced them at a factory in the country he pronounces like the "gina" in vagina for some reason. Once imported, his campaign could have marked them up and sold them to fund his campaign. And since it appears that he's not bound by U.S. law, he probably could have profited from their sale too.

I know this sounds silly, but how different would it be from the red hats? I suppose the main obstacle would be that the science seems to indicate that reusable cloth face masks offer little protection for the wearer and are more about protecting others who come in contact with the wearer. I'm not sure Trump supporters are known for their concern for others. Then again, they aren't known for being terribly well-versed in science either. But seriously, this looks like a missed opportunity. Trump could have profited, supported his campaign, and actually helped people by encouraging his supporters to wear masks.

Based on my own non-scientific observation in busy parking lots, I'd estimate that roughly half of Mississippians are wearing face masks of any kind when they venture into crowded public places where social distancing is nearly impossible. There are many reasons why more aren't doing so, and most of them probably have little to do with President Trump's wildly inconsistent statements and appalling lack of leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. I'd like to say that belief in Christianity and the power of prayer is the main one, but I suspect that isn't nearly as important as the simple reality that masks have not been available for purchase for months. One refrain I've heard a few times is, "If it is that important for me to wear a mask, the stores would be selling them."