Evidence — not baseless assertions — for masks is needed

49
2516

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A summary of a recently published scientific study of mask effectiveness follows this letter.]

It struck me that the Fayette County Board of Education (FCBOE) meeting on August 23rd was such a fiasco because, once again, there was a lack of evidence to support those who want to mandate masks for children and students.

I wasn’t at the meeting, but I consulted the FCBOE website and looked strenuously for reports that prove the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of Covid, specifically in schools. No such report or data were found.

I went to the CDC website and looked equally hard for similar reports and found none. I just found assertions and diktats that children should wear masks in schools. I even searched the footnotes and found no such report or data.

What I did find was data and reports that suggest masks are not effective or necessary for preventing viral spread in schools and that, in fact, there was scant evidence that students spread the virus to teachers or even each other.

If the school board or anyone who supports mandatory mask-wearing could supply definitive reports and data to back up their assertions, then there would be much less need for heated debate or angry argument.

But that is simply not the case, so you’re just left with individuals and government officials blindly following CDC guidance and citing that guidance as their only authority.

Sorry. That ain’t enough nowadays, especially given the CDC’s recent mistakes on Covid and their obvious back-peddling on the back-to-school issue after the Biden administration sicced the teachers’ union on them. Biden tells the CDC what to say, then cites the CDC as authority for what he says. Perhaps it’s not that cynical, but it sure seems to be.

Then there’s the antics of board member Leonard Presberg. First, it’s entirely inappropriate for a board member to mock citizens during a meeting on Facebook or anywhere else. In fact, it’s extremely childish to mock them in any format at any time, but especially during a meeting when he should be listening. That’s his duty as an elected official.

But more to the point was his singling out of religious community members who voiced their opinions, who said things such as “ God did not tell me to vaccinate my child. God did not tell me mask my child. God will give me what we need.”

I too think many of the comments were over the line or a bit extreme, but just imagine, if you will, the parent asserting their position had a transgender child, and was telling everyone that they must respect his/her decision and disregard their own values to meet the subjective needs of the parent and child.

I doubt Presberg would have made light of their views, or their worldview. He would probably celebrate it! And I also doubt any board member would begin mocking such a parent on social media the way Presberg was mocking his political and intellectual opposites.

See, you Leftists, you can’t abolish the idea of objective truth and say that every issue must be judged on emotions and feelings, and then try to assert your views on masks or transgenderism or whatever are “right” in any sense of the word while other, opposing views are “wrong.” You have destroyed the concept of right and wrong and have replaced it with mere emotionalism at times backed with brute force, which is always the way of Leftists and tyrants.

So, to be fair, if you’re allowed to claim “your truth” or “lived experience” is authoritative on any given issue, then you must also respect those who have different subjective views as at least equally valid. The antics of Mr. Presberg show that instead, the Left only seeks to impose their will and dismiss their critics not with argument, but with derision, scorn, and hatred.

Those who criticized mask mandates with anger and unfair attacks are also guilty of behaving inappropriately, but I have more sympathy for them because they are pushing back against the arbitrary, capricious power of the state and the fear-mongers. Such an adversary tends to make you a little crazy.

But both sides would benefit from basing their arguments more on science, facts, truth and logic rather than threats, false claims to authority, or the derisive and childish tactics of Mr. Presberg.

Trey Hoffman

Peachtree City, Ga.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s one recent relevant scientific study that I have summarized below:

Canadian mask study — Best masks to least effective

• R95 — highest efficiency (60% filtration of exhaled aerosols (meaning 40% got out)

• KN95 — with best possible fit, 46% filtration, dropping to 3% with a loose fit around the nose (meaning more than half to nearly all of your exhaled germs got loose).

• KN95 with one-way valve — 20% efficiency of filtration (meaning 80% got out)

• Standard surgical masks — 12.4% (meaning about 87% of exhaled virus-containing aerosols escape through the mask)

• 3-ply cloth masks — 9.8% filtration efficiency. Which means that a 3-ply cloth mask is better than nothing but not by much. Why? Because it releases 90% of infected persons’ virus-containing breaths into the air in front of their masks.

Note that this study measured exhaled or outward bound aerosol spray, NOT inhaled. Logic suggests, however, if 90% of your exhaled germs got out, probably about that same amount of somebody else’s germs got in. At any rate, this rigorous scientific study demonstrates that your cloth face covering — however good it makes you feel — doesn’t do a very good job of protecting you or anybody else.

Until it gets canceled for not meeting the current medical/political party line, here’s the title of the study with its address: Experimental investigation of indoor aerosol dispersion and accumulation in the context of COVID-19: Effects of masks and ventilation (https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0057100) The scientific article is published in July 2021 in AIP Physics of Fluids. Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts. If you can find a published scientific study that measures the efficiency of masks that contains better news for mask wearers, email it to me (editor@thecitizen.com). I’ll post its findings and url as well.]

49 COMMENTS

  1. Cal, from the article you summarized:

    Recent observational studies and meta-analyses of mask effectiveness have estimated that mask usage reduces the risk of respiratory virus spread by 70% to 80%.22

    • Follow that footnote. The full text (posted below) of that paper demonstrates that the 80% statistic only applies when N95 masks are used in a health care setting in conjunction with other PPE and protective methods. Table 1 summarized findings from each of the 21 studies examined in this metastudy. Studies that examined other mask types showed they only appeared to provide little or no protective value.

      The full gamut of interventions necessary to limit transmission in schools cannot be enforced in the classroom environment. The only rational course of action is to go virtual until students are either able to be vaccinated or have acquired immunity from infection.

      www[dot]medrxiv[dot]org/content/medrxiv/early/2020/05/05/2020.04.03.20051649.full.pdf

  2. One last thing .. promise!
    It is a misnomer that just because i am an ICU nurse I always have access to N95 resp and ppe.
    We ALL wear hospital issued KN95 (available to public) and regular goggles (also available to public).
    N95 Rsp are reserved for ACTIVE covid patient care only.
    We use the same masks that we are asking you and your kids to wear.
    Thank you

  3. Nearly 80 years ago, Americans were asked to greatly sacrifice and give up many things, and in so many different ways, in order to defeat our common enemy. “The Greatest Generation” mindset was to do even more like donate through youth group drives and give back by buying bonds, all for the common good. It was a collective, cooperative American spirit that got us through to better times. Today, that generation would once again do most anything, like wearing a mask, all in an effort to deter, defend, and defeat another common enemy. Quietly they would call it one’s simple duty for the United States and bemoan our generation’s softness. There would be no debate on either issue.

    • So true! This is what has made me so sad about the anti-mask and anti-vaxx movement in the face of this pandemic which has already claimed 600,000+ lives! What would my parents and grandparents, who sacrificed so much to keep the western world free, think of an America where our “freedom” or “right” to transmit disease is placed above our desire for the common good? Never has my expectation of altruism and common decency in America been lower than it is today.

  4. I think I have found a solution!

    All kids and parents that opt out of CDC recs for masks and vax could go VIRTUAL….

    Then all the kids and parents who choose to opt-in to CDC recs are allowed to be BRICK and MORTAR.

    Or outdoor school for everyone –
    Man that would be nice.

  5. So….to all of your extremely emotional and aggressive responses to my perspective all i have to say is …. Wow!
    And thank you for confirming that you are indeed very very very angry and inflexible and inconsiderate human beings. My kids will def not be friends with your unmasked children. Thank god! See you in the ICU

    • It’s tragic that people who can’t be bothered to wear a mask CAN be bothered to spew vitriol about why they won’t. They want to demand their “rights” over their responsibility as members of a society and community (which is pure selfishness and self-centeredness), and they don’t want to be shamed or condemned for being selfish and self-centered. It is a very difficult tight rope to walk, so of course they passionately defend their indefensible position and try to convince us (and themselves!) that it isn’t selfishness and a lack of care for others, but rather their personal “choice” or “belief.” Imagine having that kind of inner turmoil … it would, of course, make you testy.

      Thankfully a few others have spoken up here who seem to “get it,” that even if you don’t happen to believe (although there’s tons of evidence for it!) mask-wearing helps, they will do it anyway, because it expresses their care for society and fellow humans. It’s interesting that in this case, maybe evolution will select for those who were kind and caring, who masked and got vaccinated; maybe in protecting others, they will be protecting themselves, too.

  6. I’m touched by the heartfelt concern being shown in this forum for one’s neighbors. But I wonder is this really altruistic or perhaps it’s more so a selfish desire for safety or imposing their will unto others.

    Personally, I doubt the effectiveness of masking, particularly with cloth and surgical masks. These were primarily used to prevent bodily secretions from falling into a patient during surgery. They also work to restrict coughs and sneezes from traveling as far. For short periods of time they are a minor inconvenience.

    I do know from personal experience; masks are quite effective at restricting my own travel. I tend to avoid going places where a mask is needed for even moderate periods. So, I guess that could contribute to limiting the spread of COVID. After all, isolation is one of the best methods of preventing the spread. Even after I was vaccinated, I tended to wear a mask while I shopped in solidarity for the employees who were forced to mask. This was before all the breakthrough cases came to light.

    It’s quite interesting as many mask-proponents act as if masks gain fantastic powers only if everyone else is wearing them. I can see where an additional layer might restrict a little transmission. I don’t believe anyone is trying to prevent someone from wearing as many masks as they should so desire. Nor are they prevented from wearing a bio hazard suit, where the risk of catching covid should fall to near zero. And this doesn’t negatively impact anybody else. This is consideration of others!

    I believe the highest point in public mask wearing came BEFORE mandates required them. It’s human nature to resist force. The agenda should to have people wear mask around others and, to do so in and out of school. Once mandated people felt impowered to become intolerant of anybody even lowering their mask for a few moments. My son was harassed by some old lady because he took his mask off as he rode by himself in his truck with the windows rolled up.

    With the onset of the delta variant, there are many documented instances of asymptomatic vaccinated individuals that test positive and may be spreading the virus unknowingly. For those insisting on protecting their children and other loved ones from COVID by demanding masks be worn by everyone at school, you must wonder if they take their masks off around their children at home? Even if they have been vaccinated, they could be asymptomatic. Do they eat in separate rooms to avoid possible transmission at the dinner table? Do they make their children wear masks at home with the family? If not, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to demand others do so elsewhere?

    Someone mentioned teaching children love. Love can’t be mandated. It has to come from one’s own heart. Pushing edicts to force mask compliance doesn’t teach respect for the opinions of others. While I encourage everyone to mask up, I believe the board of education should stop at the promotion of masking and not mandate. Once mandated, there is no room for any non-compliance. I listened to one student that claimed to have been ostracized by her teacher for failing to stay masked while out of doors. What is needed is a way to safely give mask breaks to those that wear them throughout the day. There are other mitigations worthy of consideration such as symptomatic testing at the beginning of the day. Reconsideration should be given to adding additional slots to the Virtual Instruction program especially considering the recent upsurge in cases as summer closed. These are the things I believe the board should be concentrating on for handling covid.

    For those begging the question what is even one life worth, why stop at masks? Why not ask for a return to lockdown which was successful at limiting the spread. Surely more lives would be spared at least in the immediate.

    • ToSirWithLove–
      I had to chuckle at your assertion–
      “Love can’t be mandated”–
      you might not want to tell all the Christians who gather during
      Holy Week! Maundy Thursday commemorates the mandate
      (“mandatum” in Latin) wherein Jesus the Christ commands us
      to “Love one another”!

      Wearing a face mask to protect others seems like a simple way to begin.

  7. I have just one question for the author of the article, if he was to need to go to the hospital for an operation would he ask the doctors and nurses remove their masks?
    Plus the transgender comparison is a false one, since that condition is not contagious.

    • I appreciate your point about the transgender comparison, 1GG.
      I found much of Mr. Hoffman’s assertions absurd, including this.

      However may I suggest you improperly referred to transgender as a “condition”. I am no expert (and I realize you meant no disrespect); but transgender is a gender identity.

      Thank you.

  8. To offer another perspective to the conversation, I will give you the perspective of an ICU nurse caring for acute Covid patients as well as patients with secondary to to chronic conditions related to a Covid infection.

    I take care of people who were otherwise healthy who chose not to get vaccinated, who didn’t believe in masks,and still don’t or maybe have changed their mind, who end up in the hospital after recovering from a mild Covid infection.

    They come to me with aneurysms, strokes, transverse myelitis, pneumonia, long term artificial airway management on a ventilator, paralysis, cognitive decline, and regret.

    The simple task of caring for these people is becoming more and more challenging. I understand distrust in government and I understand personal values and personal freedom and free will etc.,

    but I also have two students in elementary school who are surrounded by kids whose parents don’t believe in masks and don’t believe in vaccines and act like everything is fine and my kids are stuck in class with these kids who don’t know any better than to follow the example of their parents. I’m pretty sure these children come from good families and their parents love them and care for them and teach them good manners and hope that they go to college and become productive citizens of this country but citizenship also includes caring for your community and its wellbeing.

    It’s a matter of common decency to try to protect one another whether you believe in a mask or not when you believe in the evidence or not it’s about humanity.

    I think we should set the example and encourage this little measure of mask wearing for the greater good.

    I think of times in history when people were forced to do much more intrusive things for less,

    Are we such an entitled area that we can’t handle being told to wear a freaking mask?!

    Keep your religion, keep your politics, keep your beliefs, keep your freedom, just wear a mask while you do it so we can all enjoy these aforementioned liberties a bit longer….please

    • I respect your position and the stress you are under but since we are talking about masking kids all day, a pertinent point that I’d like to know is this: what percentage of those so afflicted are under 19 years of age? If there are any in this age group, what percentage of them have significant underlying conditions (obesity, respiratory illness, diabetes)? Per the GA Public Health website, since the inception of data collection nearly 18 months ago 6 out of 100 people aged birth to 19 have tested positive for COVID (using census data as the basis). Of that group, 4 out of 100 ended up in the hospital (no data on ICU but I’m sure it’s a small percentage of this group). Extrapolated, this means that in the past 18 months 2 out of 1000 kids have ended up in the hospital – a guess would be that more like 1 of 10,000 ended up in ICU.

      This all sounds callus to some I’m sure, but when making public policy it matters. Your kids are much more likely to end up in the hospital due to a car crash, a drug overdose, or falling from their bike. Given the oft stated mantra of just one life saved, if you believe that stop putting kids in cars and busses, keep all medications from them, and no bikes allowed. This is not pedantic – it’s real life. As far as masks are concerned, this is not a binary wear a mask good, no mask bad. There are sociological and learning implications to putting masks on kids every day, all day and those must be (or should be) included in the decisions around this multi-varient problem.

    • Common decency states that you don’t impose yourself on others. Other people don’t believe that masks are a solution, yet you expect them to engage in an activity for your benefit and protection which imposes a cost on them. Whether you think the cost is onerous or not is irrelevant.

      As an ICU nurse, you are protected by first wearing a gown over your personal clothing, followed by an N95 respirator, over which an additional surgical mask might be worn, over which either goggles ore a face shield is worn, and finally, gloves which are cuffed over the gown. This is the level of PPE you are afforded to protect you from transmission when in close contact. It is beyond hypocritical of you to then suggest that a simple consumer grade procedure mask is sufficient for kids in close contact, and they should therefore be forced to wear it. (The CDC’s own testing has shown that even when properly worn and fitted, procedure masks capture less than 38% of aerosolized virus particles. Which means kids are more than 60% exposed.)

      My liberties are not subject to your failed understanding of the science of Industrial Hygiene. That’s not a matter of entitlement. That’s a matter of common decency.

      • PTCitizen–
        My rights, my freedoms, my liberty…your
        definition of common decency is troubling.
        And if it is in fact true, I would advocate for extraordinary decency; especially during a time of crisis.

        Self-sacrificing decency that doesn’t bristle at activities that benefit and protect others. Not counting the cost imposed.
        (To paraphrase your own words).

        Getting the COVID vaccines, wearing a mask, washing your hands, observing quarantine restrictions…these don’t make you less free; they make you more humane.

        May I add, the essential workers who care for society in so many ways, putting their own health at risk, exhibit heroic decency.

        We can do better than “common”.

      • PTC you say …

        “Other people don’t believe that masks are a solution, yet you expect them to engage in an activity for your benefit and protection which imposes a cost on them. Whether you think the cost is onerous or not is irrelevant.”

        You know what else some idiots don’t believe is a solution to car accidents? Driving sober! But I bet you expect alcoholics to drive sober for your benefit, even though it imposes a cost on them — whether you think the cost is onerous or not.

        We live in a society for cripe’s sake, and in a society/community you expect people to take the very minimum steps not to kill each other, and if they’re unwilling to do that, then they don’t belong in the society. In fact the society falls apart with such unworthy specimens!

        It doesn’t matter whether you “believe” masks are a solution, the many studies cited in this comments section show that they reduce the transmission of a deadly virus; they ARE effective whether you “believe” it or not. You don’t get to — or I should say, in a society it shouldn’t be tolerated for you to — go around infecting people with a deadly disease just because you “believe” that you aren’t. Your beliefs will kill people!

        Doesn’t that matter to any of y’all who are defending your “rights” and your “freedoms” and crying about the personal cost to you of having to be inconvenienced when what that inconvenience is accomplishing is saving lives? The Greatest Generation is weeping for the selfishness and heartlessness of this nation today.

        • Was there any point in that hysterical and unhinged diatribe where it occurred to you that you were making precisely the same arguments that the Eugenicists made while murdering thousands of working poor, minorities, and women deemed as “unfit” during the early 20th century?

          • PTCitizen–
            Oh, I don’t think VJax sounded hysterical or un-hinged. Just tired and frustrated. Which I can understand.

            It can be disheartening hearing you and others holding personal freedoms and individual rights sacrosanct.

            Simply put, we are asking you, during this COVID crisis, to set them aside.
            To be selfless. To sacrifice. Yes, to actually place the health and welfare of others ahead of your own.

            In encouraging all to mask, to get vaccinated,
            and to follow all precautions, we are appealing to their nobler
            natures. The best we can
            all be.

            Who knows–perhaps when we have defeated this disease we will discover a permanent and ” a better way” (as St. Paul put it so well).

            Nonetheless, try to think more kindly of those like
            Jax and I. We are genuinely happy to do anything within our power to protect others from suffering in this crisis. Including you, PTC.

            I don’t mind if you don’t buy into it. But try not to be so snotty to VJax. We need her voice.

          • If it disheartens her that she doesn’t have the power to coerce people to do what she wants, then the problem is with her and nobody else. The malignant narcissism of proto-fascists claiming they just want to create a better way is writ large in the devastation and human suffering of the 20th century. We don’t need to try those ideas again to understand that they don’t work.

          • PTCitizen–
            You see “the malignant narcissism of proto-fascists claiming they just want to create a better way”…but I see an intelligent and good-hearted humanitarian who is determined to love you and protect you. Not to coerce you. (Nor do I expect you to return the favor; that is irrelevant.)

            I speculate this because I can relate to Jax. We do all this because it is right.

            Perhaps when these days are behind us you will understand. But no matter–we’ll still care
            about you. And yes–it IS a better way.

    • How does the ‘rona know to not infect the other kids at lunchtime when they remove their masks to eat? (I would also ask the same of flying on a plane or eating at a restaurant where you are told to where a mask except when eating and drinking).

      I guess it went to cotillion and learned not to infect in polite society, or whenever the Dems hold a fundraiser in Napa where only the wait staff need wear a mask.

  9. From what I see there is no silver bullet in completely eliminating the risk of catching this virus. Wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, washing your hands, etc is a multi layered approached to reduce virus transmission.

    Like other living viruses, COVID replicates while within the host (that’s us). Given these viruses are a single strand RNA every time it replicates it mutates to some degree. In some instances the mutation actually weakens the virus and becomes less viable but in other cases the mutant virus is much more dangerous like the Delta variant.

    So the idea is to reduce transmission as much as possible. The concern is this #&$^%@$ virus will replicate to even more dangerous from; that’s damn scary.

    Now I’m just a fat man that rides a bicycle so your opinions may vary; but, I’m wearing a mask and vaccinated and when the booster is available I want to be the first one in line. I’m doing this for me and my family and each and every one of you.

  10. I believe masks are effective but I do think this letter raises some great points and provides well-reasoned arguments in support of the case against masks. I loved how the author was able to admit mistakes made by people on his side, and how he was able to make his point without slinging personal attacks at the people who disagree with him(for the most part). The hallmark of effective communication is getting people to listen and understand your message. If you attack someone, they are going to be more concerned with defending themselves than listening.

    I’m 46 and I still remember a time when people could calmly debate contentious issues without resorting to tactics we all should have left behind on the playground by now. It seems as a society we’ve regressed.

    The one thing I strongly agree with in this letter is the idea that we shouldn’t blindly follow the CDC or any other government official. That is particularly true when Dr. Fauci admitted he lied at the beginning of the pandemic about the effectiveness of masks. He’s also lied about the possibility COVID leaked from a lab in an apparent attempt to coverup the NIH’s funding to the Wuhan lab suspected to be the source of the leak. I think people on my side of the debate are a little too dismissive of the significance of these lies. Also, the CDC has given some guidance in recent weeks that IMO was awfully sus. I don’t their guidance that vaccinated people could stop wearing masks was premature and now they’ve quickly done a U-turn on that. All of this to say, while I disagree with anti-maskers in general and don’t like their tactics, I’m still going to consider what they have to say and not judge the validity of the movement based on the ones who are the most ill informed and obnoxious of them. I think that it’s good that we have people asking questions and holding people accountable.

    Where I think the anti-mask movement goes wrong is that it’s too reflexively oppositional and hyperbolic. In doing so, it makes concerns that have validity look downright silly and otherwise reasonable people look like raving maniacs to rest of the world. A mask is a simple piece of cloth. It’s not a burqa or a strait jacket. I can see how in the future a mask mandate could lead to more restrictive policies such as burqas and strait jackets, but at this moment we are nowhere close to being at that point. You lose a lot of people you otherwise could have persuaded when you resort to extreme tactics. Trust me, you do not help your cause by harassing poor working Joes who have nothing to do with the policy—the teachers, Walmart greeters, etc.

    The most glaring problem with the anti mask movement is that it provides no reasonable alternatives. Right now, hospital systems across the country are close to collapse due to the influx of COVID patients. Under these dire circumstances, its not enough to raise questions, criticize the severity of the problem. Masking may not be perfect, but anti maskers have provided absolutely no viable alternatives. We can review scientific studies all day long but the indisputable fact is that U.S. is dead last in the world when it’s comes to our COVID response. There is no country where citizens have masked up that have been as hard hit by this virus than we have. This includes even desperately poor countries in the developing world. The fact that the parts of the country where masking are also the most hardest hit is pretty much the only fact people are caring about right now.

    • CatMom, with all due respect, your long piece contains numerous inaccuracies. Like, “Indisputable fact that US is dead last in the world when it comes to our Covid response.” Err, we did develop a few test platforms, along with vaccines and administered over 360M+ doses so far. Or, “There is no country where citizens have masked up that have been as hard hit by this virus than we have.” Err, although we have had 600K+ deaths, the death rate totals are much higher in many countries such as in Europe and South America. And third, “Particularly true when Dr. Fauci admitted he lied ..” Err, [slight pause], you know there are other news sources from which to glean and gain accurate information from.

  11. I propose that your issue with the “lack of evidence” is indicative of your scrutiny and distrust of the very evidence you claim doesn’t exist and those who have provided it. Evidence does exist for the efficacy of face coverings, provided by controlled studies. Therefore, assertions that masks do work are not, in fact, baseless. Rather, they rely on existing scientific understanding and observation.

    Evidence: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2014564118

    “Only one observational study has directly analyzed the impact of mask use in the community on COVID-19 transmission. The study looked at the reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Beijing households by face mask use (10). It found that face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission, if they were used by all household members prior to symptoms occurring. The study did not look at the relative risk of different types of mask.”

    “There has been one controlled trial of mask use for influenza control in the general community (14). The study looked at Australian households, was not done during a pandemic, and was done without any enforcement of compliance. It found that “in an adjusted analysis of compliant subjects, masks as a group had protective efficacy in excess of 80% against clinical influenza-like illness.” However, the authors noted that they “found compliance to be low, but compliance is affected by perception of risk. In a pandemic, we would expect compliance to improve.” In compliant users, masks were highly effective at reducing transmission.”

    “A Cochrane review (15) on physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses included 67 RCTs and observational studies. It found that “overall masks were the best performing intervention across populations, settings and threats.” There is a similar preprint review by the same lead author (16), in which only studies where mask wearing was tested as a stand-alone intervention were included, without combining it with hand hygiene and physical distancing, and excluding observational studies. That review concluded that “there was insufficient evidence to provide a recommendation on the use of facial barriers without other measures.” MacIntyre and Chughtai (17) published a review evaluating masks as protective intervention for the community, protection for health workers, and as source control. The authors conclude that “community mask use by well people could be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be pre-symptomatic. The studies of masks as source control also suggest a benefit, and may be important during the COVID-19 pandemic in universal community face mask use as well as in health care settings.”

    Evidence has suggested a benefit to wearing masks, even if they are non-medical grade, in community settings. You can disagree with the evidence, dislike it, but to say there is no evidence is disingenuous at best.

    This quote summarizes it best:

    “When examining evidence relevant to a given belief, people are inclined to see what they expect to see, and conclude what they expect to conclude. Information that is consistent with our pre-existing beliefs is often accepted at face value, whereas evidence that contradicts them is critically scrutinized and discounted. Our beliefs may thus be less responsive than they should to the implications of new information”
    -Thomas Gilovich

    If you want to believe that masks do not work, and especially if you base this belief on politics of the “Leftists” and fear of authoritarianism vs. scientific research and concern, than no amount of evidence can be provided to change your mind.

  12. Ok Cal, the facts. The study you referenced did not measure the impact of any kind of mask on the amount of infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles from human actions. The study itself is titled – in the context of Covid-19. The authors did conclude high quality masks should be utilized (when recommended social distancing guidelines cannot be maintained) AND proper ventilation be used in combination to mitigate threats.

    In a recent review by Science Daily (August 19, 2021), the chief author of the study (Prof. Yarusevych) does say, “Modest ventilation rates were found to be as effective as the best masks in reducing the risk of transmission.” A good review however on masks that is specific to Covid-19 is the PNAS – “An evidence review of face masks against Covid-19.”

  13. This “Leftie” isn’t as threatening as you always make out, Mr.
    Hoffman. I really don’t “abolish the idea of objective truth”,
    judging all things by “emotions and feelings”. Only Love.

    Universal Love, to me, is the one surety that all things conform to. Even truth.

    Thus, even if face-masks were useless in preventing the spread of
    the COVID virus (which I believe is false) I would argue that the
    greater truth, in Love, is to mask up for a simpler reason. Face- masks DO work…to show we care about one another, more than we care about our own selves.

    They teach our children empathy and forbearance and charity.
    They show we practice the common good.
    Proof that we are working together in a crisis, looking forward to rejoicing when it is resolved, knowing we did our part.

    When I mask up, I hear Louis Armstrong singing about neighbors encountering each other–what they’re really saying is, “I love you!”
    To me, that is the truth of the efficacy of face-masks.

    As to the parent who opined, “God did not tell me mask my child.”…well, He sort of did. At least through St. Paul–“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

    Teach your children well!

  14. As a nurse, i see people who were otherwise healthy that have recovered from mild covid cases wind up in the icu with strokes, aneurysms, seizures, spinal cord injuries, blood clots, impaired motor abilities, cognitive decline, etc.
    i think the argument for not applying a mask due to being healthy is absolutely selfish, ignorant, and dangerous.
    You people have NO idea how ugly this virus is (in its Acute and Chronic and Secondary forms).
    If you had to care for people who chose not to take basic precautions and also chose not to get vaccinated – you would maybe have a different perspective – but then again, if you are operating on a political basis you will never see the light!

    • Thank you for this reminder, Nursea, and thank you for your work. One of the worst parts of seeing this surge among the unvaccinated and mask deniers is the terrible strain they are putting on doctors, nurses, medical care providers, and others employed in hospitals and ER’s, like the janitors and food service folks … It must be so demoralizing to see these sick folks and know their illness was preventable.

    • To just say “thank you” seems so inadequate, nursea.
      There is simply no way that most of us can comprehend what you and so many others have been going through. For so many months.

      I sincerely hope your heartfelt request for precautions is heeded.

      Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is the least that we can do. Especially when professionals like you are doing so very much for us.

      You are loved, nursea.

  15. TF is wrong with people who are desperately lobbying for their kids to get COVID? That’s demented. As for the efficacy of masks … if you google “do masks work” and go to the August 7 KXAN story (an NBC news affiliate) you will find …

    1. Researchers (including a CDC doctor) for a February 2021 article published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed data from 10 previous studies conclude mask wearing substantially reduces spread. They write that wearing a cloth mask can reduce transmission of exhaled droplets from infected wearers into the air by around 50% to 70%. Additionally, masks were shown to help prevent uninfected wearers from inhaling large respiratory droplets. Overall, the authors found mask wearing’s main benefit is source control, which protects others by reducing the number of respiratory droplets released, rather than respiratory protection, which protects the wearer. Peer reviewed.

    2. Universal mask adoption for people when in public is recommended by the authors of the “An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19,” first published in January by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. Researchers poured over at least 150 other studies, models and findings to draw their conclusion: “The available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks when out in public, in combination with complementary public health measures, could successfully reduce virus reproduction levels to below 1, thereby reducing community spread if such measures are sustained.” Additionally, they posit that mask wearing mandates could add $1 trillion to the U.S. GDP by preventing business closures. Peer reviewed.

    3. A high-speed laser-light video experiment in The New England Journal of Medicine caused oral fluid droplets to appear as flashes in the light. When observed, between 227 and 347 oral fluid droplets flashed when participants said the words “stay healthy” without a mask. When the same phrase was spoken with a mask, “the flash count remained close to background level.” Peer reviewed.

    4. A June 2020 University of Iowa study published in the Health Affairs medical journal estimated over 200,000 COVID-19 cases were prevented in May after masking was mandated in several states. For this experiment, researchers used data analysis and models to measure community spread before and after a mask mandate was enacted. Data found that within 1-5 days after a mandate was issued, daily case rates dropped nearly one percentage point. Within 21 or more days, they dropped two. Peer reviewed.

    There is much more to the article (41 peer reviewed studies are cited), and I encourage anyone who is mask hesitant to read it. This is not your crackpot friend on Facebook telling you masks will make you sick or are ineffective. This is a list of an explanation of peer-reviewed studies that show masks help halt the spread of COVID. WHY would you not want to mask and help protect others?

    And … even if you don’t like wearing a mask or asking your child to wear a mask, don’t you think you owe it to the rest of society to make the effort? Or is it really just all about you doing only what you particularly feel like doing?

    I sent the link to the article to the editor, perhaps he will add it here as he said he would.

  16. Masks do help, they like all other measures are not 100%, but if they only save a small percentage of lives, they are worth using. Especially if it’s one of your family members. Also, I need an in-depth and knowledgeable response how wearing a mask violates freedoms?

  17. Healthy habits and education go hand in hand. Children deserve nutritious meals and daily exercise. They also deserve full-time in-person learning. CDC currently recommends universal masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

    • Currently, the CDC recommends that medical professionals use an N95 mask because they will work in close proximity to potentially unvaccinated individuals. But they are telling you that any cloth face covering will do for unvaccinated children in close proximity at schools. And you don’t see the problem with this?

      Children deserve parents who will think for themselves instead of blindly following flawed advice from the government.

  18. Here’s the issue Mom – you cannot prove that a mask will save a single life. The data provided shows masks do little. You want to know what DOES save lives? A healthy lifestyle. Various studies have shown that between 50-80% of Covid deaths have involved co-morbidities (obesity being one of the most common). So if you get to mandate that I have to wear a mask, I get to mandate that all you smoking, overweight, donut-eating lard Butts have to get your buns off the couch, work out, and get your BMI under 30 so that you’re not at such a high risk from Covid. Sound fair?

    And one more thing – if you’re really concerned about your children’s health, how about getting the school system to remove the ice cream freezers from schools and get the donuts and pop tarts off the breakfast menu.

    • the-wing-t, you are engaging in a textbook case of “whataboutism”: a way of attempting to deflect the issue at hand by desperately crying, “Oh yeah? Well what about _____?!” when in fact ____ has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      Your main idea: a healthy lifestyle is important to kids. Agreed. It was fantastic when First Lady Michelle Obama made the prevention of childhood obesity one of the top causes she supported during her time in the White House, and I assume you, too, lauded her efforts to help provide the resources for parents and schools to get kids eating healthier and moving more. We all agree that’s great and a much-needed effort and will take ongoing work. It’s great that you support it and are part of it!

      But that has nothing to do with the subject of Trey’s letter — although, I admit, with Trey’s letters, almost anything can be dumped into the mix because he has a mystical way of connecting every issue –through the calumny of the left — to the issue he’s discussing, so maybe childhood obesity WAS in there and I missed it.

      The main thrust of his letter, however, was his mistaken idea that masks don’t help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the deadly disease you may have heard about. In fact, as several studies cited in these comments show, masks DO help prevent the spread of the disease, so he was wrong about his main point.

      So, if you want to side with Trey and be anti-mask, you need to provide a better argument than, “Sugar kills!” Indeed it may, but that’s not the point here.