After months and months of covid tyranny, nearly forty states and many more places continue to push for the wearing of masks in the United States. Shortly after his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed a series of orders requiring masks to be worn in all states, as well as on airports, buses, and trains. This type of state paternalism should be of great concern, not only because it violates human rights, but also because the state has proven incapable of making people safer. In fact, it invariably made them less secure.
Mask effectiveness: “Settled Science”?
The chorus of technocrats and corporate media have repeatedly taken the same view: the benefits of mandatory mask orders are “fixed science”. In defense of their claims, they often cite a litany of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies to stop any further discussion. Most of the studies they refer to, however, do not decouple major variables or analyze masks outside of a laboratory setting, so their supposed “facts”, in short, don’t prove much of anything. The debate about the effectiveness of masks is actually far more nuanced. In fact, many of the more relevant studies suggest that most masks can do little to slow the spread of Covid.
A 2017 meta-analysis examining countermeasures against pandemic influenza found that “face mask [sic] The overall use was not substantially protective, but “regular hand hygiene was” (emphasis added). Since Covid, like influenza, is a viral respiratory disease, this finding may be relevant to the present pandemic. Masks, however, are not homogeneous and the effectiveness of masks can depend in large part on the type under consideration.
For example, repeated studies have shown that makeshift masks like bandanas may only marginally prevent particle uptake. Researchers recommend using them only as a “last resort”, although they were very common during the current pandemic. Some other types of masks don’t do much better in the literature. According to a study, fabric masks are “only marginally beneficial for protecting people from particles <2.5 μm" such as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for Covid disease). Commenting on the available data, Drs. Lisa Brosseau and Margaret Sietsema wrote that "Cloth masks have very poor filtering efficiency" and should not be used by healthcare workers or the public.
A similar pessimism can also be observed with surgical masks. Unfortunately, neither of the two studies that looked at the use of surgical masks in non-medical settings could formally close anything. Both urged further research, although neither found a statistically significant benefit for the masks. In fact, several studies have found that even in a medical setting, surgical masks cannot prevent patient wound infection and protect health care workers. Aside from surgical masks, N95 ventilators were the “gold standard” for Valetudinarians. A couple of studies done in 2017 concluded that N95s might be more protective than surgical masks (although a recent study didn’t find a significant difference between the two). In any case, N95s are almost always unsuitable and improperly worn in general public use, even if the CDC is approved, which casts doubt on their supposed superiority.
Masks and nothing else
A systematic review published by Cambridge University Press contained the following nugget: “[A]Any mask, no matter how efficient the filtration is or how good the seal is, will have minimal effect if not used in conjunction with other preventive measures such as isolating infected cases, immunization, good breath etiquette, and regular hand hygiene. “Even so, the effectiveness of wearing masks has been greatly exaggerated by health authorities throughout the crisis, to the exclusion of other remedial measures. CDC Director Robert Redfield, for example, has called it “the most powerful public health tool” and “our best defense”. Misleading rhetoric of this nature has led many to treat masks as a panacea that allows them to continue their otherwise regular activity. Once masked, they assume that the risk of transmission is low, even when in close proximity to others. Of course, research has repeatedly shown that this assumption is wrong.
What may be at least partially responsible for this behavior is a phenomenon known as risk compensation.[t]The adaptation of individual behavior in response to perceived changes in risk ”as defined in Segens Medical Dictionary. If an individual believes they are “more isolated” from danger, they can afford to be more arbitrary and therefore often make less effort to be “safe”. By wearing masks, many people reduce the practice of other safety strategies such as social distancing and hand hygiene. Because of the government’s mask mandates, people may contract the virus in far greater numbers than usual (including the elderly and immunocompromised).
This seems to be exactly what happened all over the world including the US. In the US, a self-reporting survey of Coviden containment practices was conducted between April and June 2020, when fears only grew and governors issued their first mask orders. Overall mask usage predictably increased over the period, but all other mitigation practices decreased. A study by doctors at Yale University found that “the representative American in states with face mask mandates spent 20 to 30 minutes less time at home and gained weight[d] Visits to a number of post-mandate trading locations. “The high case rates of many well-masked politicians like Los Angeles County help support the study’s findings.
Chart after chart with data from different states and locations shows that the introduction of mask mandates has repeatedly not led to a reduction in Covid cases. In many cases, the number of cases did not increase until the weeks after mandates were issued. A comprehensive analysis conducted by Rational Ground found that states with mandatory mask orders had an average of 27 cases per hundred thousand people per day, while states without seventeen had just seventeen, even after researchers blamed a fourteen-day period for transmitting viruses.
If mandatory masking is really the linchpin of America’s covid response, as Redfield and other officials have suggested, why does the data show no public health benefit? A team of infectious disease experts – including some from Harvard Medical School – responded in a recent article: “Focusing on universal masking alone can paradoxically lead to greater transmission of Covid-19 when the attention is drawn from the Implementation of a more fundamental infection is diverted -control measures. “This observation should be anything but controversial. Even in its current guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that masks can create a” false sense of security, which may lead to recognized preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene are less observed “and the risk is increased. Taking behaviors.” Nonetheless, mask commands continued to be defended, expanded and enforced.
In fact, through their letter, some mask orders explicitly played into the risk compensation mentality and exacerbated its effects. The Massachusetts Ordinance, in effect since May 6, is one such example that “any person … who … does not keep a distance of about two meters from any other person must cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face Coverage. “It’s an either / or imperative: either practice social distancing or wear a mask – although in reality replacing one behavior with the other can have serious consequences. The Yale study authors comment,” Since the reproductive rate of [SARS-CoV-2], the pathogen that causes COVID-19[,] Such substitution behavior could mean the difference between controlling the epidemic and recurring cases. “Let that sink in: the mandates designed to slow the spread may have been one of the main factors behind the spread of the virus.
Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the practice of wearing two masks “common sense”. However, according to some doctors, this practice may offer very little protection and never has a single scientific study been conducted to measure its effectiveness. Under the impression that double masking is a “silver bullet”, many may feel even more comfortable avoiding other mitigation strategies – all at a time when Covid is potentially becoming more contagious.
All of this begs the question: If the mask mandates produced so many unpredictable and inefficient outcomes, what should have been done instead? There cannot be a single answer to this, as it is impossible for any agency to centrally plan public health. The risk of developing Covid varies from place to place and person to person based on the extent to which it is spread in the community and the types of activities a person is involved in. A uniform approach such as the mask mandate is liable to end in failure. The information needed to assess any situation and make the right decisions is disseminated throughout society. No agency has all the answers. So what should have been done was let people speak to their families, friends, and doctors to find the solutions that would work best for them. Companies should also have had the opportunity to create their own guidelines to ensure the safety of customers and employees. This means that freedom and property rights were the only prudent path – not state paternalism. This freedom could have taken all sorts of forms, with different solutions that work for different people and companies in different places and times, allowing personal insight and flexibility to drive society’s covid response. After all, following the knowledge of civil society is the only way to ensure health and freedom. Confidence in the government has only diminished both.