Skip to comments.To Mask or Not To Mask
Posted on 07/23/2020 6:57:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
I have, for most of my adult life, been a practicing hypochondriac. So, it will come as no surprise to you to hear that I am a zealous reader of the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA. I find something of interest in practically every issue. Recently, I found myself engrossed in the thoughts of Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is also, if I am not mistaken, a noted bird watcher. I, of course, know very little about the birds. Yet, thanks to Redfield and the JAMA, I am now very much up to date in my knowledge about the wearing of masks and the controversy surrounding them during this pandemic.
You might recall that, some weeks ago, I wrote in this column about what I saw as a looming conflict between those who advocate wearing masks to protect themselves from the Wuhan virus (also known as the coronavirus) and those carefree Americanos who think that they might take their chances and go about their business maskless. Well, not surprisingly, the conflict has continued to heat up, and now it has led to full-fledged warfare, with each side taking up arms against the other and blood being spilled.
In my column, I vowed to remain "absolutely neutral" in the coming warfare between those who have advocated masks and those who would go maskless. I even offered a little joke hoping to get the contending sides to lighten up a bit. I wrote that, for the sake of public health, both the mask-wearers and the maskless should wash their hands at every opportunity and also wash their feet and blow their noses. I am told that Dr. Anthony Fauci did not think my joke was particularly funny.
I hope that he and the pulchritudinous Dr. Deborah Birx will take note of this column. I have changed my tune. I have been won over by the advocates of masks. It was Redfield and his argument in the JAMA that convinced me. He believes the pandemic can be brought under control in four to eight weeks, if "we could get everybody to wear a mask right now." In a signed editorial, he said there is "ample evidence" that masks assist in reducing transmission of the virus. Think of it! We could limit this horrible plague to a few weeks -- if we all worked together.
As things stand now, Americans are awaiting the arrival of therapeutic drugs or of vaccines, thanks to the ingenuity of our great pharmaceutical companies. I have no doubt the medications will be at hand someday soon. But Redfield says if we all wear masks, we will overcome this plague in a matter of weeks. I say, give masks a chance. (And I do hope the good doctor will not follow the example of the Washington Redskins and change the first syllable of his last name. That would be excessive.)
Even if the American pharmaceutical industry has some medications ready by the fall, it will take months, probably years, to vaccinate everyone. There will be those who refuse to take the medications because of religious scruples. There will be those who refuse them because of constitutional concerns. Probably, there will be some hypochondriacs who will dream up some dread diseases attendant with the medications. Believe me; I know about these types of kooks. And there will be the congenital ornery.
In fact, all of these uncooperative types who I have imagined as opposing future vaccinations have already appeared on the scene. They compose a large number of those who refuse to wear masks today. Actually, I was refusing to wear a mask before I read the cogent thoughts of Redfield.
Which brings me to the nub of the matter. Redfield has convinced me that if I wear a mask, we can beat this plague. Or, rather, if millions of my fellow Americans wear masks and are as reasonable as I am, we can beat this plague. But how many millions of Americans can be relied upon to follow Redfield's prescription? How many Americans are reasonable? Consider the protests in Portland, Oregon. Consider the hotheads in New York City and Washington, D.C. How about the angry young men in Chicago?
After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that only the giant pharmaceutical corporations will save us. Though for me, I am wearing a mask henceforth.
You are comparing what to what? In New York cases rose from 5k a day to 10k a day in two weeks (Mar 27 - Apr 9) In California, with masks, it is taking four weeks to get the same rise. Use 7-day moving averages. Keep in mind California has double the population and there's a lot more testing now.
We are certanly not seeing the kinds of rises that we did in April.
“We are certanly not seeing the kinds of rises that we did in April.”
In California? You are seeing vastly WORSE! New cases have exploded! 1500 cases/day in April. About 4,000 cases/ day when the mask requirement went into place. 10-12,000 cases daily NOW!
If masks work, why haven’t cases been CUT? Why haven’t they at least leveled off? If there are other factors at work, explain what they are. Heck, California has shut down MORE businesses and still cases are exploding.
It doesn’t work!
‘If that word means what I think it means after three years of Latin’
‘pulcer, pulcra, -um, adj of the first or second declension....pretty; beautiful; handsome; noble, illustrious...
‘Dried up old prune.’
oh, I don’t know...I’ve seen a lot worse...
‘and I won’t be intimidated into believing that I should be, because I know that it’s a bunch of politically motivated BS.’
so what do you do when you are threatened with removal from the premises due to either no mask, or the improper wearing of one...?
‘After 8 weeks off mask the masks come off and the spread restarts In time to be roaring on Election Day’
that’s an interesting take...
If masks work, why havent cases been CUT? Why havent they at least leveled off?
Because not everybody is wearing them. Because they don't work very well. But mainly because they are testing more: positivity is basically flat, so the new cases are mostly due to more testing.
In the following, I write “should,” because not all masks work perfectly.
A chemical mask should work, because whatever is passing thru the mask, with the intake, or outlet, air, bonds chemically or physically.
A mechanical mask should work, because of some combination of its layers consisting of fibers, as a complex physical mesh composition -— all designed to cause intake, or outlet, air, to change directions more than once. At, or near enough to, the change of direction for air, objects and particles “suspended” in the air, fail to make the change of direction, because of their mass/weight, and are caught by the fibers.
A screen or fence should work, because its single layer of composition, is in the way of some object’s direction of travel.
There are degrees of combinations of the following:
. . . that may apply to some masks that are intended to be re-used. Plus, the number of times that a mask can pass thru such processing, before the level of efficiency of a mask, falls below “satisfactory” performance (or the straps become frail and useless).
If 100 percent protection is expected, but not met, then a mask may be considered worthless. If levels of protection - levels of performance - are expected, then a mask has levels of value.
In general, masks should provide a “satisfactory” level of protection when an effort is made to respect the weaknesses of the mask.
I have been helping my 3M N95 masks to last longer, by using an additional, cheap, ordinary, not-an-N95 dust mask in a fashion similar to a radiator bug screen. And, the extra, out front, cheap mask, adds more changes of air direction, increasing overall efficiency.
The SARS-2-CoV virus
Usually air borne along with moist human exhaust vapor droplets.
In somewhat contained areas - such as some spaces within an Old Folks Home - and not destroyed by staff cleaning efforts, and thus a window of air drying opportunity is available to the SARS-2-CoV virus, it may be reduced to either of:
- most of the time, a combination of itself plus some chemical/mineral crystalization
- very rarely, a lone virus structure.
Air currents could break either of those structures, free from a surface.
I do not expect that any mask I am using, will be effective against a “cloud” (air borne concentration) made up of the second structure that is only SARS-2 virus.
Instead, I anticipate that the masks that I use, afford me a better chance of some protection from the first structure that is the SARS-2 virus plus some chemical/mineral crystalization (usually the result of human saline, so to speak).
And, I anticipate that the masks that I use, afford me a relatively much better chance of some protection from the SARS-2 virus - when the SARS-2 virus is borne along with moist human exhaust vapor droplets.
Without masks available from my shop inventory, I would probably create my own mask from at least 4 layers of cotton T-shirt material. Use shoe laces for securing. And probably wear a bandana over that, as my “bug screen.”
I have been bathing the shop masks in sunlight. On dark days, I place the masks in a kitchen pot that is wide enough for the masks plus room for a tiny bowel in which I place some Hydrogen Peroxide. Put the lid on the pot and place the assembly in an oven for 1 hour at 160 deg F.
After wearing a mask
If home, I use a wash cloth with some rubbing alcohol and trace the boundary of where the mask was obviously in contact with my face. Because that “joint” is not perfect.
I have used FELS NAPTHA bars for decades. This soap breaks up a variety of oils and resins. I figure that this soap will quickly break down the exterior lipid surface layer of the SARS-2 virus. So, FELS NAPTHA is my preferred, at-the-sink bar, for the occasion.
I have used SIMPLE GREEN (approx. SG 30-40 / 70-60 H2O concentration) as an engine degreaser; so I consider that it, too, may be a contender.
I try to wipe down everything with a combination of Mr. Clean and Rubbing Alcohol. I try.
I stopped using from my shop supply of rubber gloves. Switched to washable gloves (local hardware store supply); sometimes sun-bathed; sometimes soap, hot water, then air-dry.
Needed for medical cleaning, disinfecting, reasons. I have long been in the habit of keeping up reserves. But I am now well into my reserves. This will become a serious problem, if stores continue to not stock rubbing alcohol. I figure, September is my deadline.
“You can’t compare California now to California shut down in April.”
I’m comparing California in JUNE - when they issued a statewide mask requirement - to California in JULY. 30+ days later. Cases have increased 3 fold even after a mask requirement plus additional business restrictions. So if masks work, why are cases skyrocketing? It should only take 10 days tops for CASES to start declining if you implement effective controls.
“But mainly because they are testing more”
Odd. When people argue against masks and say the spikes are due to more testing, they are ridiculed. But if someone points out cases continue to skyrocket after masks are required....cases are due to testing?
You cannot have it both ways. If cases are not increasing, then why impose masks? If cases ARE increasing, then masks are not working.
You want a scenario where no objective reality is allowed in affect your claims. If cases were falling, you would claim masks did it. If they skyrocket, you claim they would go up even faster without the masks.
It is like global warming - no matter what the data, proponents get to claim it is happening!
You consider only the public health perspective. The negative effects of forced mask-wearing are significant in other critical ways:
-- Being forced by a politician or unelected bureaucrat to cover your face with a mask is dehumanizing. It hides your identity and makes social interaction, particularly among casual acquaintances or strangers, extremely difficult. It promotes distrust and feeds anger.
-- Being forced by a politician or unelected bureaucrat to cover your face with a mask makes even the healthiest person appear to be sick. It serves to remind us of the most horrible aspects of the virus ... that we're just a sneeze or a cough away from certain death.
-- Being forced by a politician or unelected bureaucrat to cover your face with a mask retards our economic recovery. Having your meal served at a restaurant by a waiter who looks like he belongs in a sick ward is not a pleasant experience and many people are avoiding this displeasure. Trying to hold a face-to-face meeting is next to impossible with everyone wearing a mask ... hiding their expressions and mumbling their words.
-- Being forced by a politician or unelected bureaucrat to cover your face with a mask severely impacts even the simple pleasures in life: a walk on the beach; attending a wedding; going to a ballgame; greeting an old friend; attending a concert ... everything.
And what makes it worse ... is that the politicians, the unelected bureaucrats, the media "reporters" and, most importantly, the medical and scientific "experts" must surely know that a mask -- even a surgical mask; even an N95 "super mask" -- is not going to stop the transmission of an increadibly small virus ... they must know this! They have to know this! It's not even "science", it's just a simple physical reality. So the question is, why are they doing this?
This is why being forced by a politician or unelected bureaucrat to cover your face with a mask "hurts" my FRiend.
Whether mask orders work in large diverse publics like California's remains to be seen. There is evidence that in some cases they are worse than nothing (see intermittent mask use studied in Al Asmary). There is evidence that dorm mask use decreased infections but not by a lot (see the other study I just linked in my profile). I think the data you are presenting has too many confounding factors be useful. For example even after masks were mandatory on June 18th, people went to bars until July 1st. So those people could certainly pick up the virus sans mask.
I would argue the opposite. More places can open with masks, for example the salon in MO that had no spread despite two positive workers there. My profile links to the study. Read it to see the caveats (other reasons there was no spread)
Your other points are mostly restatements of executive overreach. Those I agree with. But argument like "incredibly small"viruses versus mask fabric is pretty easy to counter. It's true that cloth masks are least effective in all studies. But it's also true we aren't trying to stop virus particles, just some droplets. That's the simple physical reality.
Went out shopping yesterday for the first time in a long time. With the high heat and humidity, I could barely breathe. The stores were not cool and I had to wear the stupid mask. The only place I felt comfortable was in a restaurant with the coldest air. I told one person about the CDC saying I did not have to wear a mask because of severe asthma. Since they did not know about that and I had no proof I suffered. Other than me grasping for breathe. Will not go back to that place.
You “stop droplets” with a simple handkerchief ... you don’t have to harm society.p>
Damn straight this is all about “executive overreach”, even as the governors and unelected bureaucrats attempt to blame their deliberate actions on “the virus”. But to conclude that this is but the substance of my rebuttal indicates you really haven’t thought through the ramifications of what is going on .... sorry to say.
“You’ve evidently want to propagate a red herring that masks work well.”
Not a red herring at all. Consider:
Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus. - CDC Director Robert Redfield
In fact, the demands for universal mask wearing is based on the idea that masks work much more than “marginally well”. You don’t make something mandatory everywhere, with fines for non-compliance, if you don’t believe they work significantly well.
“I think the data you are presenting has too many confounding factors be useful. For example even after masks were mandatory on June 18th, people went to bars until July 1st.”
Yeah, because such a huge percentage of people spend time in bars that continuing bar use means cases will GREATLY EXPAND. Please note, I’m asking for evidence they CUT cases. But the reality is cases are continuing to explode upwards in California, even after the restriction on bars.
When cases continue to accelerate, it calls into question the efficacy of ANY and ALL of the applied control measures. It isn’t as if California has flattened the curve even. And to the extent masks help, it should be evident within 10 days. By the end of June.
The bars were open before and after the mask mandate was put in place, and masks didn’t change the curve. Neither has the bar restriction, which calls into question if it is helpful as well. At some point, when politicians impose restrictions and cases continue to grow rapidly, the success of those measures needs to be examined.
I think you are missing the effect of the lockdown. There is much more traffic in Calfornia now compared to the April lockdown. That's partly because people are ignoring the lockdown and more restrictions were loosened. Then Newsom tightened some more on July 13th and there's some lag to see the effects.
To figure out whether a given mandate has an effect, you need a lot more data due to the dynamics of the situation. Family gatherings might be a cause, so you would look at the data and see if there's household spread (no masks in that case). Or look for office spread in some of the reopened offices (masks would be in use in that case). Pay special attention to the demographics. If younger people are getting hit there's less chance that they were wearing masks.
In short, you need a lot more data to make a conclusion, and since masks don't work very well, don't expect a lot of signal compared to noise.
Unless Tyrrell has sunk into doddering senility in recent years, this piece was meant as satire. I know I doesn't seem to come off quite successfully -- maybe a sentence or paragraph got dropped somewhere in the process.
Try to get a copy of his Public Nuisances (1979) -- splendid pieces on Jimmy Carter, Lillian Hellman, Andrew Young and others.
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