Why Aren’t Masks Free?

If the single most effective thing we can do to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus is for everybody to wear a mask, why aren’t masks free?

From CNBC.com, on 16 September 2020:

Face coverings are “the most powerful public health tool” the nation has against the coronavirus and might even provide better protection against it than a vaccine, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers Wednesday. 

So if face coverings are so important, why do poor people have to choose between them and a gallon of milk, or two quarts of Milwaukee’s Best?

And if you have to choose between a mask and a gallon of milk, or two quarts of Milwaukee’s Best, and some authoritative people are saying that the pandemic is hoax, or not very serious, and maybe you’d really like two quarts of Milwaukee’s best, what are you going to do?

So why aren’t face masks free, and widely available, like those plastic gloves that are everywhere to pick up dog poop?



  1. The day before yesterday at City Council, the city showed a video depicting the Christmas tree lighting and decorations at San Jacinto Plaza. People were told to just drive by and not get out…but if they HAD to get out, they were asked to social distance. The park is open as usual. After council had viewed the video, Rep. Svarzbein asked if masks were being given out at the park to people who weren’t wearing them. The city official seemed stymied, as though this had never occurred to him. He jumped to say that security officials would from then on be supplied with masks to distribute at the park.
    In other cities, notably New York, brigades of city workers are out in the streets handing out masks. They give them to sociable and helpful people in neighborhoods, to distribute ad lib to the neighbors. All subway station clerks give them out to whoever asks for one. In fact, the New York City mask (a regulation surgical mask) is the hip, NYC thing to wear. It has supplanted all privately acquired masks as New York high style. It that happens in El Paso, we will have Rep. Svarzbein to thank.

    1. What’s the matter, Deb? Are you afraid I might get some of the credit?

      If you’d been paying any attention at all, you would have noticed that I don’t seek any personal notoriety. I just want things to work.

      I’m happy to let Peter take credit. And I’d like to commend him for his recent conversion to rational thought, though it would be nice to see him take a logical stand against the oligarchs, and not just the mayor. But Mr. Svarzbein may well be out of office before any of their projects come up for another vote.

  2. Honestly, people who can’t afford a mask can’t make one for themselves? I’m all for helping people but when the Taxpayers of El Paso start paying for masks, where does it stop and how much does it cost? You can’t find an N95 mask anywhere, and rightfully so, they should be reserved for healthcare workers. The K95 masks you find online or at Home Depot are only 30% efficient. On Amazon they run about $1.15 EACH. How many masks will the denizens of El Paso run through, thinking they are FREE, when actually it comes out of their tax dollar.

    1. Please, bro. The City spent $13 million in CARES funds on buildings to use as “vaccination centers”. Tommy G makes $400,000 a year. The City wastes plenty of money on everything else. They should be able to drop a little jingle jangle on masks.

      Have you ever gotten down to the Pik ‘n’ Kwik and realized that you don’t have a mask with you, when all you wanted to do was to buy a quart of Mickey’s?

      You reckon a mask is high on the Christmas list of those people who live out there in Montana Vista? They’re thinking “Mask? Or quart of Milwaukee’s Best?”

      And making masks free emphasizes the importance of wearing a mask.

      And lots of El Pasoans wouldn’t wear a government mask. They’d want a Fendi, or Nike, or Gucci, even if it was a knockoff.

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