May 19, 2020

There needs to be a national campaign to support mask wearing. It needs to come from certain types of national organizations and be directed at corporations.

To make it work there needs to be movement on multiple fronts with support from people with various types of expertise and influence.

This needs to happen because of the massive failure at the national political level to protect lives during a pandemic.

Here's a great piece in Vanity Fair about the power of wearing masks.

If 80% of Americans Wore Masks, COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet

They comparing data in the US vs other countries that wear masks to show the massive difference in deaths. They also created a simulator to show how masks can prevent infection.

“What’s most important about wearing masks right now,” said Guy-Philippe Goldstein, an economist, cybersecurity expert, and lecturer at the Ecole de Guerre Economique in Paris—and a masksim collaborator, “is that it works, along with social distancing, to flatten the curve of infections as we wait for treatments and vaccines to be developed—while also allowing people to go out and some businesses to reopen.”

Credit: Build A Sign
The study addressed the cultural differences between countries about masks and how it's been difficult to enforce mask wearing pin the US. If the business community wants to start up retail again, one way to do that is broad support of mask wearing from powerful players in the retail level.

Americans can start pushing mask wearing at retail spaces easier than wearing them in public. Retail businesses are on private property and can refuse service to people not wearing masks  No Mask. No Service.

This piece in the New York Times points out why there needs to be widespread support for wearing masks:

Who’s Enforcing Mask Rules? Often Retail Workers, and They’re Getting Hurt
The risk of a violent reaction now hangs over jobs already fraught with health perils. May 15th by

“Why aren’t you wearing the mask?” Jesse asked the customer on a recent day at a store in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. I am not here to question what you believe in. These are the rules. I am just asking you kindly to wear the mask.

The customer, Genevieve Peters, who was recording the entire exchange, refused. “We are in America here,” she said, “Land of the free.” Then she turned her camera on other shoppers, who were less than amused: “Look at all of these sheep that are here, all wearing this mask that is actually dangerous for them.”

Jesse, identified only by his first name in the video, telephoned the police, who did not arrive. Finally, when Ms. Peters left the store, others customers burst into applause.

So what will it take to make this happen? I have a background in convincing major corporations to walk away from toxic right wing media to protect their brand, here are the groups I think can make it happen and the steps to take.


To get all customers to wear masks in stores people with expertise and influence in the following areas need to help: Legal, insurance, financial, HR and PR.

The push needs to come from national organizations who have clout right now.  I've  listed them in the order of their current PR clout (which isn't the same as their political, financial, backroom, golf buddy, or "my mom died of COVID-19 & I'm serious about this" clout.)

1) First responders (EMT, firefighters, police, sheriffs)
First responder organizations can tell retailers, "Making ads praising us is great, but if you want to save our lives, push for your customers to wear masks."

  • Use male EMT, firefighters and cops as mask wearing role models.A recent study showed that men think wearing masks show weakness and that they won't be impacted. it's irrational and incorrect, but it needs to be addressed.
    All St. Louis firefighters like Cedric Ross, pictured here on April 15, are wearing masks while on calls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Credit: Composite graphic Spocko. Image: BILL GRENBLATT | UPI

2) Doctors, Nurses, Health Care Workers and Hospital Administrators
The representatives for doctors, nurses, and health care workers can ensure retailers have the medical data to back up the policies, but the most important thing these groups can offer is their endorsement of the mask policy.

Bangor Fire Department paramedics Brian Cochrane (right) Nick Chapman wear full face shields during a simulation of how they respond to EMS calls with positive or inconclusive cases of COVID19. Bangor, Maine, April 28, 2020 Credit: Composite graphic: Spocko. Image: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

3) Lawyers with experience in state & local law, executive orders and public policy
Anti-maskers are using weaknesses in federal and state policy to stop implementation of mask wearing nationwide. Corporations need legal and public policy knowledge about Executive Orders and state constitutions to help them push back against a very small, but loud group that has the support of Trump and fringe RW groups.


Making Mask Wearing the Reality in Retail

Customers can influence policy in retail. They can convince corporate HQ to make changes that give managers the tools to support and enforce policies that make mask wearing in retail spaces a reality.  Educate corporations that everyone wearing masks is good for their brands and bottom line.

Dead customers are bad for your brand (unless you are the BodyBagStore.)

For retail managers I wrote some scenarios local managers can use to shut down debates with anti-maskers.  Store mangers need a POLICY. Employees need a SIGN.


I know from recent conversations that there are people already doing the work behind the scenes to support mask wearing at the retail level. One I know of is #Masks4all I'm writing this piece to encourage them and other groups who are focusing on the health and safety of all the customers. I hope they will start rolling out joint agreements showing mask wearing EMTs shopping at pharmacies. I
think mask wearing firefighters shopping at a grocery store is a perfect fit.

When those stories happens expect the media to still cover the handful of anti-maskers verse entire group of pandemic heroes because they need a "both sides' story.


If you go to a store and see people not wearing masks what can you do? Call the company directly and find out their policy. Look to see what the State and local policies are.  If they don't have a policy send them one they can use. For example here's Trader Joes' policy page: Customer Use of Face Coverings.

Or work with your favorite activist group that has experience with pressure campaigns on corporations at a national level. They can use the power of your story to help convince the right people.

In my experience people at retail corporations need to hear from customers who support mask policies If they DON'T, the CEOs might think they will lose customers if they require masks. Call the companies, Tweet, emall, and post on FB or Instagram with yourr mask on their page.

Tell them you care about the staff. Be polite. Alert them to your concerns. Educate them on the number of people who want to live and will wear masks. Otherwise they will only see the stories about people complaining and threatening staff.  Conflict is news, compliance is not. 

I know the people who work in Corporate HR, PR, communications and legal. They all want people to be safe. Sometimes they need reasons and excuses to tell top management to do what's RIGHT, instead of doing what Trump or a dumb Governor wants.

Company HQ especially need to hear that people in states that DON'T require masks still want everyone to wear them in stores. This is important since often they default to a narrow legal talking point. "We follow all state and local laws." This doesn't address the fact that on private property companies can require STRONGER POLICIES THAN WHAT THE STATES REQUIRE.

If you don't want to do any of this you can create memes, stickers, videos and social media to support mask wearing in stores. It would be great to see videos of people talking about why masks are important. Contact my new friends at
#Masks4all to see how you can help.

I'm not an ad wizard, but watch this video and see how easily it could be changed into one supporting mask wearing.

[Fade in] Video of first responders wearing masks. They look at the camera and say,"If you care about me, (EMT), me, (Cop) me (Doctor) and me (Nurse) you will wear your mask when out in public and shopping here, (CVS,) here (Trader Joes) and here (Target).

We support masks in stores for everyone because, "We're all in this together.." [fade out.]

Images from Piotr Szyhalski’s Daily COVID-19 Reports Credit: Piotr Szyhalski

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.