It didn’t take long for people to begin calling out Del Rey for donning a mask that seemingly offered little protection — if any — against the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide.
“Lana sweetie what is this mask,” one Instagram user asked.
Another appeared to sum up the thoughts of many, writing: “YOUR MASK WON’T WORK IF IT HAS HOLES IN IT.”
As the backlash built, the 35-year-old was accused of endangering fans at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Los Angeles, and followers begged her to wear a more appropriate face covering in the future.
“ILY BUT WEAR A PROPER MASK,” read a remark from one of her 17 million Instagram followers.
The bookstore’s website states that all visitors must wear a face covering.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear face coverings made of two or more layers of breathable, washable fabric, created from a material such as cotton. The World Health Organization encourages handmade face coverings, but health experts say that three-layer fabric masks are ideal against the novel coronavirus.
It’s unclear whether the mask Del Rey wore had any kind of invisible protective layer. The singer’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“If the mask is in fact entirely mesh (as it is not completely clear from the photo if there is a clear barrier behind it), then this mask would be ineffective in its purpose of minimizing the spread of respiratory droplets,” Christopher Sulmonte, a project administrator at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit, told The Washington Post in an email Monday.
Sulmonte stressed the importance of wearing a mask made from a fabric with a high thread count, such as cotton, to reduce the volume of droplets coming from a person’s mouth. He also noted that face coverings should fit snugly and run from the nose to the chin with no gaps.
“This mask doesn’t address either of these factors and thus provides no protection to those around the wearer,” he said.
Some of the star’s fans noted that she had worn the mask somewhere before: On the cover of Interview Magazine’s September edition.
“NOT THE MESH MASK,” one person exclaimed, apparently stunned by its return; others begged her never to wear it again.
At the time the interview was published, the magazine noted that it was not necessarily endorsing the singer’s choice of mask.
“Please wear a mask. Just not, you know, this one,” Interview joked as it published photos of the star staring into the camera and lifting the glitzy material up to her face.
In a caption that accompanies one of the photos from the September shoot, the magazine states that the mask belongs to Del Rey, but it did not provide any further details as to who made it.
In another video from the poetry event Friday, Del Rey can be seen adjusting her mask as she reads one of her poems to the crowd, the netted fabric seemingly sliding down her face as she speaks.
Experts urge people who are wearing a mask in public to avoid touching their faces to lower the risk of infection.
As more footage from the event emerged, fans and critics expressed concern that Del Rey was not keeping a safe distance from those in the room. Photos posted to Instagram and Twitter show the singer in proximity to some fans while posing for selfies.
“Why is she at an event with a bunch of people wearing a mesh mask??? I love Lana but this is incredibly irresponsible,” read one of many comments.
Del Rey doesn’t seem to have responded directly to the controversy. But the singer did take to Instagram over the weekend to share a video that showed her wearing an animal-print mask that fully covered her nose and mouth — a move that prompted a stream of joyful comments from fans who applauded her for “finally wearing a proper mask.”