Healthy People Wearing Masks, Should They or Shouldn’t They?

Healthy people wearing masks? There's no science to support this practice. photo courtesy of Janko Ferlic. | Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

Healthy people wearing masks. These days you see them everywhere. But according to Patricia Neuenschwander, M.S.N., R.N., C.P.N.P.-P.C., an emergency room nurse with over two decades of experience, the science doesn’t support healthy people wearing masks. When Neuenschwander found out that her grandchild’s Montessori preschool was going to require even toddlers to wear masks, she did a deep dive into the research to better educate herself and her grandchild’s school about mask-wearing.

The following is a version of the letter Patricia Neuenschwander sent to the preschool administrators.

Should Healthy People Be Wearing Masks During This COVID-19 Crisis?
By Patricia Neuenschwander, M.S.N., R.N., C.P.N.P.-P.C.

In the process of making decisions one must evaluate the options, including the risks and benefits of the recommendation. While there is considerable debate about this subject, because of the current coronavirus situation, healthy people are being told by government officials to wear masks. To evaluate this recommendation, we have to ask some commonsense questions:

  • What are the risks of serious complications or death from COVID-19?
  • What are the benefits—using science and data—of healthy people wearing masks to prevent spreading a virus?
  • What are the risks to healthy people wearing masks?

Risk of death from coronavirus

Looking at risk of death from this novel coronavirus, we need to look at real numbers. The models and predictions have not been shown to be accurate. The population in the United States is approximately 326,700,000. As of May 9, 76,934 have been reported to die from COVID, as a complication of it, or with it. Using the real numbers of people potentially at risk (as we all are) and the number of these deaths, it works out to be 0.00023 or 0.023% of the population. That is essentially a 0% death rate in the general population.

It looks like the death rate from this is higher because not everybody has been exposed, so the death rate is higher in those known to be exposed. The problem is we don’t know how many have been exposed. Without an accurate denominator, we don’t really know the risk of dying if you become infected.

However, several studies show most people infected have mild to no symptoms and fully recover. A few recent studies looking at populations with real data of people who were infected, that did not have symptoms or receive treatment, have shown the death rate to be much lower than previously reported.

Because most of the people tested were sick or were at a very high risk of infection based on exposure, we have no idea how many fully recovered. We do know that older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions (like heart or lung disease or diabetes) seem to be at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

As none of these risk factors are applicable to healthy children, children with no underlying health issues remain at an extremely low risk of being seriously affected or dying from this infection.

I have no qualms with people at high risk staying home or wearing a mask in public to try to protect themselves from contracting this infection. I do have qualms about healthy people wearing masks, asking them to partake in an intervention that has not shown to benefit anyone (using science and data) and can potentially cause harm.

Does wearing a mask help prevent coronavirus infection?

An important study using science to evaluate cloth mask use to prevent infection was conducted in March 2011. It is a large, prospective, randomized clinical trial; and the first randomized clinical trial ever conducted of cloth masks. The international team of researchers concluded:

This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs, particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.”

This study doesn’t provide evidence for effectiveness in high-risk populations; it certainly does not support healthy people wearing cloth masks.

More recently, researchers from University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health reviewed the scientific literature. While not an exhaustive review of masks and respirators as source control and personal protection equipment (PPE), this review was made in an effort to locate and review the most relevant studies of laboratory and real-world performance to inform our recommendations. The review, which has 52 citations, concludes:

We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because:

  • There is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission
  • Their use may result in those wearing the masks to relax other distancing efforts because they have a sense of protection
  • We need to preserve the supply of surgical masks for at-risk healthcare workers.

2020 study in Seoul, South Korea looked at the effectiveness of surgical and cotton masks in blocking COVID-19 in a controlled comparison of four patients. The COVID-infected patients were put in negative pressure isolated rooms. The scientists compared disposable surgical masks (3 layers) with reusable cotton masks.

Patients were instructed to cough 5 times while wearing no mask, surgical mask, or cotton mask. Interestingly, all swabs from the outer masks—including surgical masks—were positive for COVID-19. Inner masks were also found to be contaminated. That means the mask did not effectively filter out the COVID virus since it is too small. The authors assert:

Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered {COVID-19} during coughs by infected patients.” Conclusion: “both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.”

The World Health Organization does not support healthy people wearing masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) has as its mission to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses.  So what does the WHO recommend when it comes to healthy people wearing masks? “WHO stands by recommendation to not wear masks if you are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick.”

“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit,” Dr. Mike Ryan, an epidemiologist who specializes in infectious diseases and public health and who is the executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing. “In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly” (source).

The CDC’s mixed mask messages

According to the CDC, avoiding close contact with sick individuals; frequently washing your hands with soap and water; not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands are effective prevention tips. The CDC also recommends covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, and practicing good respiratory hygiene (source). But here’s the rub. The CDC then goes on to say that the cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected but there are no scientific citations to support that wearing a mask is effective at preventing you from spreading the virus to others. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons America’s surgeon general, Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., said in an interview in March that masks can be dangerous is because people tend to touch their masks many times per hour and can spread the disease that way. A CNN News story that has since been removed from the internet had a headline that read: “Masks may actually increase your coronavirus risk if worn improperly, surgeon general warns” (click here to read it via the Wayback Machine):You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” Adams said during an interview on Fox & Friends on Monday morning. “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus,” Adams said. “We’re certainly seeing more spread in communities, but it’s important for folks to know that right now their risk as American citizens remains low. There are things people can do to stay safe. There are things they shouldn’t be doing and one of the things they shouldn’t be doing in the general public is going out and buying masks,” he said.

On a separate page, the CDC discusses masks. They write:

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

However, there are no scientific citations provided to support this on that page. They go on to say that the recommendation has changed because they have figured out it is transmissible person to person.

These mixed messages are confusing. But what we know for sure is that the CDC knew from February 26 when the first community spread case documented in the U.S. that this virus was transmitted person to person; and not only was there no recommendation to wear a mask then, they strongly opposed the general public wearing masks.

Additionally, The World Health Organization warned of human to human transmission on January 14, 2020:

WHO’s technical lead for the response noted in a press briefing there may have been limited human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus (in the 41 confirmed cases), mainly through family members, and that there was a risk of a possible wider outbreak. The lead also said that human-to-human transmission would not be surprising given our experience with SARS, MERS and other respiratory pathogens” (source).

The CDC has known for decades that the influenza virus is transmitted person to person, but we have never been told to wear a mask to stop the spread of that virus. As a matter of fact, the CDC specifically says masks don’t work; and they do not recommend wearing a mask, to prevent transmission of the flu!

No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses” (source).

But wait. On this separate page related to the recommendation to wear a face covering, the CDC does provide seven recent publications to support the use of masks for COVID – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html

Here is a brief summary of each study listed. I recommend you read them in their entirety.

1. Rothe C, Schunk M, Sothmann P, et al. Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2020;382(10):970-971.

This study is about transmission from one person exposed to four people- “The fact that asymptomatic persons are potential sources of 2019-nCoV infection may warrant a reassessment of transmission dynamics of the current outbreak.” There is nothing in this study about masks related to benefits or risks of wearing one.

2. Zou L, Ruan F, Huang M, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Upper Respiratory Specimens of Infected Patients. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2020;382(12):1177-1179.

This study is about viral load in 17 patients: “We analyzed the viral load in nasal and throat swabs obtained from the 17 symptomatic patients in relation to day of onset of any symptoms”. There is nothing in this publication to support or evaluate healthy people wearing masks.

3. Pan X, Chen D, Xia Y, et al. Asymptomatic cases in a family cluster with SARS-CoV-2 infection. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2020.

You can kind of tell by the title of this study but their conclusion: “To prevent and control this highly infectious disease as early as possible, people with family members with SARS-CoV-2 infection should be closely monitored and examined to rule out infection, even if they do not have any symptoms. In the case of this family, since the time between presentation and identification of SARS-CoV-2 infection was short, more studies are needed to observe the symptoms and test results of infected individuals in greater detail.” Again, there is nothing in the study that supports the use of wearing a mask!

4. Bai Y, Yao L, Wei T, et al. Presumed Asymptomatic Carrier Transmission of COVID-19. JAMA. 2020.

Yet another study that has nothing to do with healthy people wearing masks. “A familial cluster of 5 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Anyang, China, had contact before their symptom onset with an asymptomatic family member who had traveled from the epidemic center of Wuhan.”

5. Kimball A HK, Arons M, et al. Asymptomatic and Presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Residents of a Long-Term Care Skilled Nursing Facility — King County, Washington, March 2020. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2020; ePub: 27 March 2020.

This analysis suggests that symptom screening could initially fail to identify approximately one half of SNF residents with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Unrecognized asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections might contribute to transmission in these settings. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, SNFs and all long-term care facilities should take proactive steps to prevent introduction of SARS-CoV-2, including restricting visitors except in compassionate care situations, restricting nonessential personnel from entering the building, asking staff members to monitor themselves for fever and other symptoms, screening all staff members at the beginning of their shift for fever and other symptoms, and supporting staff member sick leave, including for those with mild symptoms.”

This citation (read it here) again provides no evidence that healthy people wearing masks prevents the spread of infection or that wearing masks is a safe and effective measure.

6. Wei WE LZ, Chiew CJ, Yong SE, Toh MP, Lee VJ. Presymptomatic Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 — Singapore, January 23–March 16, 2020. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2020;ePub: 1 April 2020.

I know you will be shocked to learn that yet again the CDC is citing research that offers no science to support healthy people wearing masks. “Investigation of all 243 cases of COVID-19 reported in Singapore during January 23–March 16 identified seven clusters of cases in which presymptomatic transmission is the most likely explanation for the occurrence of secondary cases.”

7. Li R, Pei S, Chen B, et al. Substantial undocumented infection facilitates the rapid dissemination of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2). Science (New York, NY). 2020.

The transmission rate of undocumented infections per person was 55% the transmission rate of documented infections (95% CI: 46-62%), yet, because of their greater numbers, undocumented infections were the source of 79% of the documented cases. These findings explain the rapid geographic spread of SARS-CoV-2 and indicate that containment of this virus will be particularly challenging.”

Ready for the shocker? You already guessed what it is? Right. Nothing about the safety or effectiveness of wearing a mask in Study #7 either.

So what have we established? That the CDC’s change in recommendations about mask wearing is based on nothing more than that the COVID-19 virus is transmissible, something every scientist who studies viruses already knew. I’m sure the CDC realizes that most people won’t take the time to actually read the science. But I do.

As you can see, none of these seven studies supports that wearing a mask is effective or safe in preventing transmission. They only support that transmission is person to person and this is the case for numerous viruses.

On March 2, after we had more confirmation that COVID-19 was indeed transmitted person to person, the surgeon general was pleading with the general public not to wear masks. As mentioned above, Dr. Adams said they don’t work and they actually can increase your risk. His exact words: “one of the things they shouldn’t be doing, the general public, is going out and buying masks. It actually does not help and it has not been proven to be effective at preventing the spread of Corona virus decreasing amongst the general public.” Listen to one of his interviews here.

He also took to Twitter to get the point across. On February 29 the Surgeon General tweeted: “Seriously people -STOP BUYING MASKS! They are not effective in preventing the general public from catching the corona virus.”

Wearing masks does not stop the spread of influenza viruses

For decades, we have known that masks have not been shown to be effective in preventing influenza transmission. How is it that masks don’t work for this virus, but they magically work for the COVID virus? The CDC, as of today, has not changed its advice about influenza.

According to the CDC, “No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses.”

You might want to save that as a PDF, before it gets censored.

Masks make children fearful 

I have not been able to locate any published research on the psychological or emotional effects of having healthy children wear masks daily for hours at a time.

I can only make an educated assumption based on over two decades of working as a healthcare professional that forcing children to wear masks will cause fear, anxiety, and negative feedback from caregivers. Mask wearing will affect children differently based on their developmental level. You cannot explain to a two-year-old why they are being forced to cover their nose and mouth.

Covering the mouth and nose for hours is not only uncomfortable for children (and adults), it also limits the airflow and the flow of oxygen coming in. It causes children to breath their own carbon dioxide, which we know is harmful. In addition, it provides a dark, warm, moist environment that potentially increases the risk of infection.

Fear is driving this recommendation for healthy people to wear masks, not science.

As a nurse for over 25 years and holding a Master’s Degree in Science, I cannot in good conscience allow my grandchild to be subjected to an intervention that may cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm without being provided significant evidence that the benefits of such intervention outweigh the risks.

Should we be encouraging healthy people to wear masks? The answer is unequivocally no.

Sincerely,
Patricia Neuenschwander, M.S.N., R.N., C.P.N.P.-P.C.

Healthy people wearing masks? Trish Neuenschwander, R.N., explains the science. Head shot courtesy of Neuenschwander. | Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

About Patricia Neuenschwander: Patricia Neuenschwander, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner. A registered nurse for over 25 years, she is the co-founder, co-owner, and CEO of Creating Brighter Futures, an ABA center, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She also currently serves as the office manager for Bio Energy Medical Center, a multidisciplinary group medical practice, which she joined in 2007. She worked as an emergency department nurse for over 17 years. She left emergency nursing to return to school to pursue a Master’s of Science in Nursing graduating Summa Cum Laude, from Wayne State University in 2014 from the pediatric nurse practitioner program in primary care. Tricia is a member of the State and National Association of Pediatric Nurses Practitioners. She is a member of Michigan For Vaccine Choice and the Children’s Health Defense organization. Her passion lies in advocating for and promoting the health of all children. On a personal note, Tricia is married with 3 children and 3 step-children, as well as 4 grandchildren, one dog, and one cat. She enjoys boating, yoga, and researching vaccine safety.

Related articles:
Wearing a Mask Can Harm Your Health
Coronavirus in Sweden: A Doctor Weighs In
Glyphosate and COVID-19

Published: May 13, 2020
Last update: June 17, 2020

About Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an investigative journalist, book author, and Fulbright awardee. She is the author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family, co-author (with Paul Thomas, M.D.) of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, and The Addiction Spectrum: A Compassionate, Holistic Approach to Recovery. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Horowitz: E-MASK-ulation: How we have been lied to so dramatically about masks

What did the scientific literature say before the issue became political?

 DANIEL HOROWITZ

If you are looking for the scientific rationale behind universal mask-wearing, you certainly won’t find it now that the issue has become as political as guns, abortion, and taxes. We are now at a point where Canada’s chief public health officer is calling on people to wear masks when engaging in sexual activities and 19-month-old babies are being forced to wear them on airplanes. There is no rational thought in a political cult. But what did the governmental and scientific literature say on the issue before it became political?POLL: How are you planning on voting this year?

On April 3, already several weeks into the unprecedented lockdown over coronavirus, but before the big media push for universal masking, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued guidance for respiratory protection for workers exposed to people with the virus. It stated clearly what governments had said all along about other forms of airborne contamination, such as smoke inhalation — “Surgical masks and eye protection (e.g., face shields, goggles) were provided as an interim measure to protect against splashes and large droplets (note: surgical masks are not respirators and do not provide protection against aerosol-generating procedures).”

In other words, they knew that because the virions of coronavirus are roughly 100 nanometers, 1/1000 the width of a hair and 1/30 the size of surgical mask filtrations (about 3.0 microns or 3,000 nanometers), surgical masks (not to mention cloth ones) do not help. This would explain why experience has shown that all of the places with universal mask orders in place for months, such as JapanHong KongIsraelFrancePeruPhilippinesHawaiiCalifornia, and Miami, failed to stave off the spread of the infection. Surgical masks could possibly stop large droplets from those coughing with very evident symptoms, but would not stop the flow of aerosolized airborne particles, certainly not from asymptomatic individuals.

This is why the CDC, as late as May, was citing the 10 randomized controlled trials that showed “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford also summarized six international studies which “showed that masks alone have no significant effect in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”

When Dr. Fauci spoke so assertively against universal mask-wearing early on in the epidemic, it was clearly based on this knowledge. “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told “60 Minutes” on March 8. He went on to explain that masks can only block large droplets, they give a false sense of security, and they cause people to get more germs on their hands by fiddling with it. Those facts don’t change with time.

Several weeks later, Surgeon General Jerome Adams punctuated this point about the counterproductivity of wearing masks in public. Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on March 31, Adams said that based on a study that shows medical students who wear masks touch their faces 23 times more often, one has to assume that “wearing a mask improperly can actually increase your risk of getting disease.”

Ever since then, we have all seen how people leave masks in their pockets or cars for days and continuously put it on and off as needed without washing their hands. It’s inconceivable that this is not serving as a bacteria trap, if not downright helping spread the virus on our hands.

2015 randomized clinical trial from the University of South Wales testing the effectiveness of cloth masks among health care workers in Hanoi found that the poor filtration becomes a conduit for moisture retention. Researchers found a high rate of infection among those workers presumably because “their reuse and poor filtration may explain the increased risk of infection.” Can you imagine how much worse this is in a non-health-care setting where reuse and cross-contamination are rampant?

This is why before mask-wearing became a cult in Canada, Quebec’s public health director Horacio Arruda told the Montreal Gazette that masks are counterproductive. Arruda’s guidance as given in the article states that masks “get saturated with moisture from the mouth and nose after about 20 minutes. Once they’re wet, they no longer form a barrier against viruses trying to come through or exit.” This renders the daylong mask wearing in businesses, stores, and schools, as opposed to the short onetime use in clinical settings, a complete hazard to spread of bacteria and pathogens.

Nothing about the biology of the virus or our discovery of it has changed in the past few months that would lead us to believe that masks are somehow more effective against it than they are against the spread of other respiratory viruses. What has changed is the politics. Governments could no longer control our lives through wholesale lockdowns, because it was logistically untenable, so they created the mask mandate as a way of permanently controlling our movement. They wisely did this on the heels of the full-scale lockdown when people were grateful just to be back in business under any conditions and were desperately willing to do anything to stave off a shutdown.https://playlist.megaphone.fm/?e=BMDC5102327221

Dr. Jeffery Klausner, an infectious disease doctor at UCLA, described mask-wearing in early February as all psychological, not physiological. He told the Los Angeles Times that “fear spreads a lot faster than the virus” and that a mask only “makes you feel better.” What is so dangerous about this is that, as Fauci and others originally warned when they were actually speaking from a modicum of scientific grounding, is that many immunocompromised people will go to dangerous places thinking the mask protects them. I’ve seen countless friends and neighbors who are concerned about their heart conditions and diabetes blissfully walk around indoors thinking the mask is their shield.

This is why Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell warned that because scientific evidence for mask-wearing to prevent COVID-19 is “astonishingly weak,” it is “very dangerous” to believe that face masks on their own could control the spread of the disease rather than hand washing or, in the case of those who are seriously ill, staying away from indoor gatherings. He would know, because his country barely has any cases left, and almost nobody in Sweden wears a mask.

The Dutch government made the prudent decision of only requiring masks on public transit when people are really close to each other for a limited period of time. With such scant evidence of the effectiveness of mask-wearing, how can we disrupt lives of children in school, businessmen in offices, and even people walking outdoors in some countries and states? “From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Netherlands Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark in August.

The Danish supposedly commissioned a randomized clinical trial to study mask effectiveness specifically as it relates to protecting against SARS-CoV-2, but despite promises of imminent release weeks ago, the study has not been published. Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitale, noted, “All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies.” It doesn’t appear that anyone else is interested in finding out the truth.

Even in England, where there is more mask-wearing than in some of the other northern European countries, Public Health England concluded, “There is weak evidence from epidemiological and modelling studies that mask wearing in the community may contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and that early intervention may result in a lower peak infection rate.”

Our own U.S. government has failed to produce new evidence that counters years’ worth of evidence that masks don’t work in stopping respiratory viruses and is still producing evidence to the contrary. In June, HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded a systemic review of all relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of mask-wearing in stopping respiratory infections and published the findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The conclusion was as clear as it is jarring to the current cult-like devotion to mask-wearing. “Review of RCTs indicates that N95 respirators and surgical masks are probably associated with similar risk for influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed viral infections in high- and low-risk settings.” The study noted that only one trial did show “a small decrease in risk” for infection when doctors wore N95s in high-risk settings, but even that evidence was scant.

The study looked at eight trials with 6,510 participants that “evaluated use of surgical masks within households with an influenza or influenza-like illness index case (child or adult). Compared with no masks, surgical masks were not associated with decreased risk for clinical respiratory illness, influenza-like illness, or laboratory-confirmed viral illness in household contacts when masks were worn by household contacts, index cases, or both.” Remember, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, is now saying people should wear masks even at home?

How have we gone from public officials universally warning about the lack of effectiveness plus the potential to spread germs from masks to mandating that young children who are germ factories wear them all day in school – without even a legislative debate or public hearings?

The answer is that we have become emasculated as a society. We have become a people who are willing to surrender every morsel of our liberty at the ever-changing and capricious whims of “public health officials,” even when they are appallingly contradictory and without any evidence justifying the 180-degree U-turn.

During times of panic, opportunistic politicians in positions of power will always latch on to desperate and regressive ideas to infringe upon liberty, while packaging them as some sort of enlightened advancement in technology or understanding. In reality, these same desperate measures were tried in 1918, and even then, it was understood that they didn’t work. A November 16, 1918, headline of the Santa Barbara Daily News read, “Average Person Doesn’t Know How to Take Care of Mask and It Becomes Veritable Bacteria Incubator.

Many principles in life are inviolable and do not change with time. We used to understand that mask-wearing was a novelty of Halloween. Now, our passivity has allowed our entire country to become a Halloween nightmare masquerade e

Horowitz: E-MASK-ulation: How we have been lied to so dramatically about masks

What did the scientific literature say before the issue became political?

 DANIEL HOROWITZ

If you are looking for the scientific rationale behind universal mask-wearing, you certainly won’t find it now that the issue has become as political as guns, abortion, and taxes. We are now at a point where Canada’s chief public health officer is calling on people to wear masks when engaging in sexual activities and 19-month-old babies are being forced to wear them on airplanes. There is no rational thought in a political cult. But what did the governmental and scientific literature say on the issue before it became political?POLL: How are you planning on voting this year?

On April 3, already several weeks into the unprecedented lockdown over coronavirus, but before the big media push for universal masking, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued guidance for respiratory protection for workers exposed to people with the virus. It stated clearly what governments had said all along about other forms of airborne contamination, such as smoke inhalation — “Surgical masks and eye protection (e.g., face shields, goggles) were provided as an interim measure to protect against splashes and large droplets (note: surgical masks are not respirators and do not provide protection against aerosol-generating procedures).”

In other words, they knew that because the virions of coronavirus are roughly 100 nanometers, 1/1000 the width of a hair and 1/30 the size of surgical mask filtrations (about 3.0 microns or 3,000 nanometers), surgical masks (not to mention cloth ones) do not help. This would explain why experience has shown that all of the places with universal mask orders in place for months, such as JapanHong KongIsraelFrancePeruPhilippinesHawaiiCalifornia, and Miami, failed to stave off the spread of the infection. Surgical masks could possibly stop large droplets from those coughing with very evident symptoms, but would not stop the flow of aerosolized airborne particles, certainly not from asymptomatic individuals.

This is why the CDC, as late as May, was citing the 10 randomized controlled trials that showed “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford also summarized six international studies which “showed that masks alone have no significant effect in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”

When Dr. Fauci spoke so assertively against universal mask-wearing early on in the epidemic, it was clearly based on this knowledge. “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told “60 Minutes” on March 8. He went on to explain that masks can only block large droplets, they give a false sense of security, and they cause people to get more germs on their hands by fiddling with it. Those facts don’t change with time.

Several weeks later, Surgeon General Jerome Adams punctuated this point about the counterproductivity of wearing masks in public. Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on March 31, Adams said that based on a study that shows medical students who wear masks touch their faces 23 times more often, one has to assume that “wearing a mask improperly can actually increase your risk of getting disease.”

Ever since then, we have all seen how people leave masks in their pockets or cars for days and continuously put it on and off as needed without washing their hands. It’s inconceivable that this is not serving as a bacteria trap, if not downright helping spread the virus on our hands.

2015 randomized clinical trial from the University of South Wales testing the effectiveness of cloth masks among health care workers in Hanoi found that the poor filtration becomes a conduit for moisture retention. Researchers found a high rate of infection among those workers presumably because “their reuse and poor filtration may explain the increased risk of infection.” Can you imagine how much worse this is in a non-health-care setting where reuse and cross-contamination are rampant?

This is why before mask-wearing became a cult in Canada, Quebec’s public health director Horacio Arruda told the Montreal Gazette that masks are counterproductive. Arruda’s guidance as given in the article states that masks “get saturated with moisture from the mouth and nose after about 20 minutes. Once they’re wet, they no longer form a barrier against viruses trying to come through or exit.” This renders the daylong mask wearing in businesses, stores, and schools, as opposed to the short onetime use in clinical settings, a complete hazard to spread of bacteria and pathogens.

Nothing about the biology of the virus or our discovery of it has changed in the past few months that would lead us to believe that masks are somehow more effective against it than they are against the spread of other respiratory viruses. What has changed is the politics. Governments could no longer control our lives through wholesale lockdowns, because it was logistically untenable, so they created the mask mandate as a way of permanently controlling our movement. They wisely did this on the heels of the full-scale lockdown when people were grateful just to be back in business under any conditions and were desperately willing to do anything to stave off a shutdown.https://playlist.megaphone.fm/?e=BMDC5102327221

Dr. Jeffery Klausner, an infectious disease doctor at UCLA, described mask-wearing in early February as all psychological, not physiological. He told the Los Angeles Times that “fear spreads a lot faster than the virus” and that a mask only “makes you feel better.” What is so dangerous about this is that, as Fauci and others originally warned when they were actually speaking from a modicum of scientific grounding, is that many immunocompromised people will go to dangerous places thinking the mask protects them. I’ve seen countless friends and neighbors who are concerned about their heart conditions and diabetes blissfully walk around indoors thinking the mask is their shield.

This is why Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell warned that because scientific evidence for mask-wearing to prevent COVID-19 is “astonishingly weak,” it is “very dangerous” to believe that face masks on their own could control the spread of the disease rather than hand washing or, in the case of those who are seriously ill, staying away from indoor gatherings. He would know, because his country barely has any cases left, and almost nobody in Sweden wears a mask.

The Dutch government made the prudent decision of only requiring masks on public transit when people are really close to each other for a limited period of time. With such scant evidence of the effectiveness of mask-wearing, how can we disrupt lives of children in school, businessmen in offices, and even people walking outdoors in some countries and states? “From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Netherlands Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark in August.

The Danish supposedly commissioned a randomized clinical trial to study mask effectiveness specifically as it relates to protecting against SARS-CoV-2, but despite promises of imminent release weeks ago, the study has not been published. Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitale, noted, “All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies.” It doesn’t appear that anyone else is interested in finding out the truth.

Even in England, where there is more mask-wearing than in some of the other northern European countries, Public Health England concluded, “There is weak evidence from epidemiological and modelling studies that mask wearing in the community may contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and that early intervention may result in a lower peak infection rate.”

Our own U.S. government has failed to produce new evidence that counters years’ worth of evidence that masks don’t work in stopping respiratory viruses and is still producing evidence to the contrary. In June, HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded a systemic review of all relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of mask-wearing in stopping respiratory infections and published the findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The conclusion was as clear as it is jarring to the current cult-like devotion to mask-wearing. “Review of RCTs indicates that N95 respirators and surgical masks are probably associated with similar risk for influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed viral infections in high- and low-risk settings.” The study noted that only one trial did show “a small decrease in risk” for infection when doctors wore N95s in high-risk settings, but even that evidence was scant.

The study looked at eight trials with 6,510 participants that “evaluated use of surgical masks within households with an influenza or influenza-like illness index case (child or adult). Compared with no masks, surgical masks were not associated with decreased risk for clinical respiratory illness, influenza-like illness, or laboratory-confirmed viral illness in household contacts when masks were worn by household contacts, index cases, or both.” Remember, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, is now saying people should wear masks even at home?

How have we gone from public officials universally warning about the lack of effectiveness plus the potential to spread germs from masks to mandating that young children who are germ factories wear them all day in school – without even a legislative debate or public hearings?

The answer is that we have become emasculated as a society. We have become a people who are willing to surrender every morsel of our liberty at the ever-changing and capricious whims of “public health officials,” even when they are appallingly contradictory and without any evidence justifying the 180-degree U-turn.

During times of panic, opportunistic politicians in positions of power will always latch on to desperate and regressive ideas to infringe upon liberty, while packaging them as some sort of enlightened advancement in technology or understanding. In reality, these same desperate measures were tried in 1918, and even then, it was understood that they didn’t work. A November 16, 1918, headline of the Santa Barbara Daily News read, “Average Person Doesn’t Know How to Take Care of Mask and It Becomes Veritable Bacteria Incubator.

Many principles in life are inviolable and do not change with time. We used to understand that mask-wearing was a novelty of Halloween. Now, our passivity has allowed our entire country to become a Halloween nightmare masquerade every day, with no end in sight.

very day, with no end in sight.

I Received the Vaccine…and a Lecture

Adam Guillette

Adam GuilletteI Received the Vaccine...and a Lecture

“You better put on your mask or you’ll catch COVID and die!”

This wasn’t said to me in jest, nor was it said to me indoors. This is what a grown woman told me while I was on a sidewalk in Massachusetts. The saddest part is that the woman clearly believed what she said.

Never mind the fact that COVID doesn’t spread very much outside, and never mind the fact that my age group is exceptionally unlikely to die from COVID. Heck, statistically speaking, it is probably more likely that a car might have jumped the curb and hit me.

Later that day, I witnessed a person walking alone on a desolate beach while wearing a face mask. Perhaps he thought he might catch COVID from a pelican?

Perhaps the worst side effect of COVID-19 is the total abandonment of logic and reason by many, many people in our nation. And simultaneously, those same people behave with an insane level of condescension while doling out their lessons.

I’ve been to 18 states since June and I’ve seen an endless variety of rules created in response to the virus. Many politicians and folks in the service industry adhere to these rules as if lives depended on it. But these rules vary by the city, by the state, and by the week. Is there any data showing that the policies in one city are more effective than those in another city? Not that I’ve seen.

If we truly are in such danger, blind adherence to the rules-of-the-week doesn’t seem very sensible. Instead, we should look at the variety of approaches to the pandemic and study which worked, and which didn’t. Of course, that would mean acknowledging that Sweden hasn’t collapsed despite refusing to lock down. It might also mean discussing Denmark, which hasn’t exactly embraced masks. And it might also mean discussing the unintended consequences of our COVID rules. The CDC has already noted significant increases in hypertension, strokes and diabetes. How many Americans will experience severe medical issues because they’re skipping screenings for cancer and other diseases, out of fear of contracting COVID at the doctor’s office?  

How many doctors and nurses will fall ill because they no longer have a sufficient quantity of masks to change theirs throughout the day? Perhaps they could’ve borrowed one from that kook on the beach.

And how quickly will formerly pro-vaccine leftists echo the arguments made by renowned medical expert Jenny McCarthy? The mainstream media — and their allies in politics — are terrified of a vaccine being released before the election. And they’re willing to put politics before human lives in an effort to stoke fear of these drugs. In their eyes, the only thing more dangerous than COVID is four more years of a Trump presidency.

The New York Times has already begun a smear campaign. Last week, their headline ran, “Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists.” You had to read five paragraphs of this clickbait story before the Times confessed that “It’s standard for drug companies to withhold details of clinical trials until after they are completed.”

Personally, I’m excited about COVID vaccines. So excited, in fact, that I signed up for trials and received either the Moderna vaccine or a placebo. Based on the mild side effects I experienced after my booster dose, I’m confident I received the vaccine.

Perhaps some of the Covidiots who are so terrified of the virus and so willing to shout face-mask instructions should take a break from their condescension and join me in volunteering to help protect our society.

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