Opinion | Attitudes Toward Masks Around the World

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To the Editor:

Re “On Masks and Covid, I Found Common Sense in Germany,” by Alec MacGillis (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 13):

Mr. MacGillis’s experience of mask wearing in Germany largely corresponds with mine in Australia, a country headed by a center-right prime minister. Here the left and the right have been united about the need for masks, ensuring compliance from the general public.

It seems to me that the key factors separating us from the United States are twofold: a responsible conservative media and strong political leadership.

The Murdoch papers, with a huge market share in Australia, have been supportive of mask wearing, social distance and vaccines. The conservative federal government, rather than exploiting the anti-mask sentiments of the minority hard right as Donald Trump did, stood behind the country’s medical experts and followed their advice in policymaking.

As a result Australia has more than an 80 percent vaccination rate of those eligible and our life is returning to normal, with one of the best public health outcomes among developed countries. For comparison, with a population 20 percent larger than Florida, Australia’s Covid death toll is 1/40th of the Sunshine State’s.

Han Yang
Sydney, Australia

To the Editor:

The report on how the Germans have been dealing with masks and the other societal questions posed by the Covid-19 epidemic was enlightening. Alec MacGillis mentions that he has seen police officers reminding public transit users to mask up. By contrast, I have seen no enforcement whatsoever of the mask mandates on New York City’s subways. In fact, I saw two police officers enter the Astor Place station and neither one of them had masks on.

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