Controversial coverings: The debate over facemasks continues as businesses begin reopening

Facemasks have become a necessary item for many Americans. In South Florida, leaders made it mandatory to wear the coverings and they are strongly recommended in the Tampa Bay area, as the CDC has outlined. 

However, some businesses have taken it upon themselves to require customers to wear one. And it seems, those requirements, whether from government or private establishments, combined with a growing partisan divide in D.C., has helped fuel outrage that’s boiled over into physical and verbal confrontations.

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Once just a protective covering, today in some ways, masks have become symbolic of people’s attitudes towards COVID-19.

“Protect myself and everybody else, I could be sick and not know it and somebody could be right beside me,” explained Larry Tillman, who wears his mask daily.

“It is being told what to do,” countered Bruce Helms, who admits to not wearing one. “Next thing they're going to make you jump up and down on one foot and wear a mask.”

FOX 13 reached out to Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor at the USF College of Public Health for his opinion. “Constitutional rights are very important but with rights come responsibility,” he said.

He calls the divide over masks “fundamentally cultural.”

“I think we have to get over that cultural divide and think about people who are most at risk here,” he said. “Don’t be a fool. What we don’t know can hurt us.”

So far, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Americans.