How masks became the latest cultural flashpoint

As COVID-19 deaths rise in several states, some feel masks are ineffective or infringe on their personal freedoms. Some disagreements over wearing the masks have turned violent. How did we get here?
7:41 | 07/16/20

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Transcript for How masks became the latest cultural flashpoint
From a grocery store in north Hollywood to a drive-through in Medford, New York. Put your mask on before you get your employees sick! The simple decision to wear or not to wear a mask has become America's latest flash point. Back off! Threaten me again! Coronavirus cases are surging across the U.S., from California to Texas, to Florida. More than 3.4 million people in the country have been diagnosed with the virus. Deaths are now up in 25 states. Yesterday, Robert Redfield pointed out one of our best weapons in this fight. I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I do think in the next four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control. So I take these wipes. Small business owners like Keith walker in Virginia believe there's only one way to successfully stay in business right now. Over here on my station I have my super duty hefty mask. What we know is that this virus travels on respiratory droplets, and a mask prevents those respiratory droplets from infecting someone else. That's the basic reason why each and every person should be wearing a mask right now. Despite the science, some Americans have refused to wear a mask, saying they have a medical exemption or they are infective or infringe on their freedoms. Masks aren't bad, mask mandates are. In this video posted on Facebook last week, Mccormick expressed his frustrations over new riglations. The constitution is being the liberty belongs to the individual, not the government. About half the states in the country have state-wide rules regarding masks in public places. Alabama becoming the latest edition today. Louisiana, the state where Mccormick lives added one two days ago. But Mccormick stands in defiance, vowing that he will not wear a mask in public. We're not looking to give up anymore of our freedoms. Mary, a trump supporter shares that same sentiment. Forcing people to wear a mask and damaging the economy over a virus is unjustified. We first met patesch in June where he spoke to my colleague. Do you think going into that arena is a risk? Absolutely not. Patesch did not wear a mask in the arena where he was surrounded by about 6,000 people. He says he still doesn't wear one in public. I do believe the virus is real. I just don't think it's as bad as people are making it to be. In a few cases, the disagreements have turned violent. A plan who wasn't wearing a mask stabbed a 77-year-old man who was wearing a mask after a confrontation at a store over a this video was released by Michigan state police. They say he approached the deputy wilding a knife. Drop the weapon, drop the weapon! The deputy opened fire, wounding the man who later died at the hospital. Despite these rare examples, an ABC news poll found nine out of ten Americans are wearing face masks when they leave home. I'm simply asking you to put on a mask to protect people around you. If you go to the super market and you end up being around someone's grand parent or someone's pregnant partner. Public health officials said the general public did not need masks. In this tweet from February 29th, U.S. Surgeon general Jerome Adams wrote, seriously, people, stop buying masks. They're not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus. On April 3rd, officials reversed course. We now know from recent studies, that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth pace coverings in public settings. Now with the number of cases exploding, even the president sees the immediate, talking about it in this interview with CBS news. If it's necessary, I would urge them to wear a mask, and I would say follow the guidelines. Recently wearing a mask during a visit to Walter reed hospital. What's evidence coming in now from around the world? Two hairstylists in spring field, Missouri who had covid-19 were in contact with over 139 clients and luckily were working for a salon which followed the local ordinance which required everyone to wear a mask. It was later found they didn't transmit it to anyone. I'm getting ready to go to work now. Keith walker, a salon owner in Virginia says that example highlights the importance of mask wearing. I do believe wearing the mask and doing everything can you to protect the client from what you, yourself, may have is very important. We first met him in April. There's my beautiful salon. When the pandemic hit, he was forced to shut down his business. There's my little sign. Which left him and his partner worried about how they would provide for will family. Their is what covid-19 and four kids looks like. Hi! When the salon reopened in may. Here we go, to start our day. Unlocking the salon. His concern for how to provide for his children was eased, but a new one was added, I had two clients who called and were diagnosed with covid, so I was a little nervous after their quarantine and after they were cleared to go back to work. They came in, and I was still nervous then, too. I have to wipe everything down. Adhering to CDC guidelines, walker's had it to change the way he runs his business, among the scissors and driers, masks are also a critical tool. I did have a few clients who would come in and say, do I really have to wear their mask? When I told them yes, you have to wear the mask, they would wear the mask. He hopes the customers understand that the small sacrifice of wearing a mask is one that will keep his beloved business booming. I know we're all uncomfortable under the mask. It's wear a mask or wear a ventilator. People think, you're taking away my rights. I don't feel comfortable. It's not about you. It's about the person next to Misty Diaz knows all too well the importance of wearing a mask. She spent last night saying good-bye to her father Jose who contracted covid-19 and spent two weeks in the icu. There's nothing that we can and I called my dad, and I thanked him for everything he's done for me. Jose passed away this morning. Now through her pain, misty's main mission, why masks matter. This is about showing compassion for others and doing what we need to do for the short time that we need to do it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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