• Andrew Cuomo said wearing a face mask is like wearing condoms during the AIDS crisis
  • The governor said the face mask helps educate people on the coronavirus
  • Over 600 New Yorkers submitted videos to Cuomo's face mask PSA contest

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his daily coronavirus press conference Friday (May 22) that wearing face mask can be compared to the importance of using a condom during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

The governor said that the campaign on wearing face mask helps educate the public about the coronavirus and COVID-19 in the same way that condoms helped on the education campaign about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and its transmission.

"I remember how many times, and how long we had to talk to people about wearing a prophylactic and how it could make a difference between life and death," Cuomo said. "The mask can make a difference between the life and death. I know it’s a small thing, it’s de minimis, it doesn’t look like much, but if it’s now primarily airborne, you know the mask works."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo compares wearing face mask to wearing condoms during the AIDS epidemic. Shinya Suzuki/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cuomo mandated New Yorkers in April to wear a face mask in public areas, along with practicing social distancing to reduce the risks of transmission and prevent contracting COVID-19. In the 1980s, people were advised to practice safe sex by wearing a condom to prevent contracting AIDS, the disease caused by the HIV.

"The mask is mandatory in public settings,” the governor said. “You don’t have a right to infect another person.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo's competition for a 30-second face mask Public Service Announcement (PSA) received over 600 submissions. The governor has picked the top five finalists, which were presented to the public on May 20.

One entry, titled "That Guy," showed a single close-up shot of a man without a face mask and the camera zooms out to show he's on the subway surrounded by people with face covering. "Don't be that guy," the PSA simply says.

New Yorkers will be able to vote the winner of this contest until May 25. The winning video will be used as the official face mask PSA of the state of New York.