Here we are, five months into the coronavirus pandemic. Five months into a raging fire that two weeks of shutdowns were supposed to save us from back in March, and the flames continue to rip through state after state, city after city.
Places that held the virus at bay early on are firmly in its grasp now. Some locales are seeing their second battle with this beast. The narrative from the experts is more fluid than that 5W-30 that keeps your car engine from locking up.
Don’t wear masks? Now everyone wear masks. Goggles … people should probably start wearing goggles. It might be necessary to wear masks in your own home. If we don’t get a vaccine soon, those experts may suggest everyone have a mask surgically attached to their face.
With each new restriction, politicians and bureaucrats tell us to trust the science, but the science keeps changing. Or does it?
On March 31, NBC News published an article titled “Do you need a mask? The science hasn’t changed, but public guidance might.”
NBC quoted the oft-stated official line “a mask does not help a healthy person avoid infection.” How many times have we heard, “My mask protects you; your mask protects me”?
But in this same article, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is quoted as saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may need to look at changing the guidance to recommend widespread mask use “as long as we’re absolutely certain we don’t take the masks away from who are health care providers who need them.”
Read that again and ask yourself: Why do health care providers need masks if masks don’t protect the wearer from infection?
Remember, at the time all elective procedures were stopped in hospitals across the country. And don’t forget that video you can no longer find, the video of Dr. Fauci telling us not to wear masks. You remember! The one he later defended by saying there were not enough masks for health care providers at the time.
I’m not sure why so many people don’t have the same questions I do. Why do people who need protection need masks to protect them when masks don’t protect them?
When the pandemic began, CDC guidance said masks were necessary for health care providers working with COVID-19 patients. The same guidance said healthy people who did not work in health care should only wear a mask if they were caring for a COVID-positive patient.
If you’re not shaking your head, you should be.
That’s what the guidance said when this all started. That’s what the science — the pre-pandemic, pre-panic science — said before the coronavirus busted onto the world stage.
This was the science conducted through the calm, cool and collected study of previous pandemics and the response to them. This was the science conducted untainted by the political pressure of an active, pressing pandemic, and it said the only people who needed to wear a mask were the people who were well and exposing themselves to an infected person.
It should be obvious now that the pre-pandemic, pre-panic science suggested the mask be worn to protect the wearer, not the sick person they were caring for.
Remember the title of the NBC article mentioned above? The science hasn’t changed, but the guidance might. The science didn’t change, but the guidance did.
When the CDC changed the guidance, it changed the narrative. Though previous science and CDC guidance clearly implied mask use was intended to protect the wearer, the new guidance was accompanied by a claim that masks don’t protect the wearer but those in close proximity to the wearer.
If that was true, the previous guidance should have said to mask the COVID patients, not those treating them.
Still not convinced? Think about this New England Journal of Medicine article published May 21, almost two months after the CDC changed its guidance to suggest everyone dress like an Old West bank robber.
“We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.” OK. That goes right along with the current narrative. You know, “my mask protects you,” yada yada yada.
But in the very same paragraph, the writers in this highly respected medical journal explain there is almost no chance of contracting this virus from passing by a person in a public space:
“Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal.”
That same paragraph concludes with this sentence: “In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”
It’s not science. It’s panic that drives the mandate to mask.
In an article originally published April 1 by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, two experts on respiratory protection wrote unequivocally, “there is no scientific evidence [cloth or surgical masks] are effective in reducing the risk of Sars-Cov-2 transmission.”
On July 16, the authors added a statement to the original article, citing requests they received to “remove this article from the CIDRAP website.” The article remains, and the authors now support adherence by the public to mask mandates, but their response to the calls to take down the article includes the following statement:
“A cloth mask or face covering does very little to prevent the emission or inhalation of small particles. As discussed in an earlier CIDRAP commentary and more recently by Morawska and Milton (2020) in an open letter to WHO signed by 239 scientists, inhalation of small infectious particles is not only biologically plausible, but the epidemiology supports it as an important mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Science is the quest for truth, not a quest for comfort, but the NEJM article posted earlier stated, “Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of Covid-19.”
In June, Dr. Fauci claimed the U.S. has an “anti-science bias.” But not everything that comes from a scientist’s mouth is necessarily science.
The science on masks is anything but settled. But here we are, five months into the coronavirus pandemic, masked up like we’re about to ride with Jesse James.
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