The COVID-19 Mask: Toward an Understanding of Social Meanings and Responses : Advances in Nursing Science

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The COVID-19 Mask

Toward an Understanding of Social Meanings and Responses

St-Amant, Oona PhD, RN; Rummens, J. Anneke PhD; Parada, Henry PhD, MSW; Wilson-Mitchell, Karline DrNP, RM, RN, CNM, FACNM

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Advances in Nursing Science 45(2):p 100-113, April/June 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000393


The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented restrictions on everyday life. Unlike lockdown or shelter-in-place measures, the facemask has emerged as an empowering response to the public spread of the virus, permitting some degree of return to prepandemic life—such as school or work—by disrupting transmission that would otherwise occur. And yet, this utilitarian tool has attracted considerable controversy and polarized opinions. This article uses Blumer's adaptation of symbolic interactionism as a theoretical roadmap to examine the various meanings ascribed to the facemask and its usage. We discuss how it is socially perceived and consider implications for health care providers within the Canadian social context.

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