Local NewsCoronavirus


To wear a mask or not? Topic divides Vegas locals, nation

Posted at 8:13 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 01:55:16-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has been recommending people wear face masks out in public since early April.

President Donald Trump said it's voluntary and that he doesn't think he'll do it.

Las Vegas locals are just as divided as the nation's leadership on the mask topic.

Should everyone wear masks?

"If I get it, I get it," said Troy Aton, outside of a local Walmart. Aton also said he is required to wear one to work but likes to be comfortable in public.

"I'm not going to have this thing scare me or change who I am. If I get, I'm going to have to fight it," Aton said.

His sister, Tracy, said although she doesn't like to wear it, she chooses to do so.

"I'm uncomfortable, but it's for my protection and everyone's protection," she said, adding that she only has to wear it for a short time.

Demetrius Taylor is a lifelong Las Vegas. He said because he has diabetes, he is among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. But he said wearing a mask is as much about protecting yourself as it is protecting others.

"Even if you don't want to do it for yourself, you need to do it for others," Taylor said.

Here's what you need to know about personal safety masks

Deborah Pinson is a real estate agent, who's also selling masks and other personal protective equipment online. She said while she didn't agree with shutting down the country, she believes if everyone wore masks and followed the recommendations of health officials, we would be in a much better place and reopen everything sooner.

"Closing down the country, I didn't agree with that, but it is what it is. Now we have to wear a mask because, to me, the economy is so important," said Pinson.

While some states have begun requiring masks to be worn in public, Nevada has no such ordinance - leaving individual businesses and people to decide for themselves. And that choice has left many divided.

In many ways, the division we see locally mirrors what has been playing out on the national level.

Emma Francis Bloomfield is a communications professor at UNLV. She said the national response to coronavirus should be collective to be effective, but so far, it hasn't been.

"The fact that people are getting these fragmented messages they're listening to and adopting is troubling when you're thinking about long-term how quickly we can get this virus under control," Bloomfield said.

She also said in many cases, whether or not people choose to wear a mask can be traced to which leaders they believe. And when national and local leaders aren't on the same page, it's hard for the rest of us to be.