When President Trump returned to the White House on Oct. 5, after spending three days hospitalized with Covid-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he stepped out onto the balcony and ripped off his face mask to greet his supporters. He was sending a clear signal: He had gone to war with a ruthless enemy and come out unscathed, still standing strong.
“I’m better and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives,” he said in a video later that day, minimizing the danger of the virus that has now killed more than 220,000 Americans.
That same day, when the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., posted a video of himself on Twitter wearing a face mask, the Fox News host Tomi Lahren suggested that he “carry a purse with that.” The implication: No strong, powerful man would resort to mask wearing.
That mask-wearing has become such a gendered issue isn’t surprising for public health researchers. A 2016 paper by the Los Alamos National Laboratory found that men are less likely than women to adopt protective behaviors, like washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks. More recently, threedifferentstudies — published this summer by Cambridge University Press — arrived at the same conclusions.