The politics behind foreign mask donation

Published: May. 17, 2020 at 9:25 PM MDT
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Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon shared on Facebook in April that the state received 50,000 disposable face masks from Taiwan government. But since January, Taiwan government has banned exporting disposable masks. For months, the Taiwanese people were not even allowed to mail masks to friends and families in the United States. Now that its government is making a donation to America, does this mean Taiwan has ample supply of masks for its people?

"We are allowed 9 masks every 2 weeks now, which means we still can't use 1 (disposable mask) per day," says Hance Huang, a political commentator in Taiwan.

Prior to April, people could only buy 3 masks per week. Since the Taiwanese people do not have enough supply to use one disposable mask per day, the government even held a press conference and then made videos to teach people how to re-use masks.

"'You can steam the mask in a rice cooker,' it's a ridiculous policy," Huang comments.

"We obviously don't have enough, telling us to steam masks," Ryan Lo, another political commentator speaks of the rationed supply and the re-use policy. "I do think helping others is a virtue, but it would be even better if we have enough." Some people oppose the re-use policy, but most Taiwanese people support the government in doing so, believing Taiwan is doing well. Looking at Taiwan's official COVID-19 report, the number of confirmed cases is low. But if one looks at the daily number, each day's number is divided by 3 categories: The cases in Taiwan, those who traveled and then returned to Taiwan sick, and those on a military ship that has a recent outbreak. By separating them, some people even think there has not been a confirmed case in Taiwan for more than a month, referencing the "Taiwan's case" category only.

"I think time will tell," Lo says, remarking that there is still much unknown about this virus, and the world might have to wait and see what all this means

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