June 20, 2020 at 7:32 AM EDT
The battle over masks in a pandemic: An all-American story
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Max Parsell hasn’t been wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemic and doesn’t intend to start. It’s a matter of principle.
“Making individual decisions is the American way,” Parsell, a 29-year-old lineman for a power company, said as he picked up his lunch at a barbecue joint at a rural crossroads south of Jacksonville. “I’ll social distance from you if you want, but I don’t want the government telling me I have to wear a mask.”
Parsell need not worry: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has not made mask-wearing mandatory here in Florida. That’s in sharp contrast with what’s happening more than 2,000 miles away in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday reacted to rising caseloads by making mask-wearing mandatory.
In this sprawling, heterogeneous country, the pandemic has become yet another thing on which Americans are divided.
By Lori Rozsa, Chelsea Janes, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach