When All Else Fails, Bring Out the Masks

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by Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., American Thinker:

The world is approaching the two-year anniversary of COVID, a life-changing event for many of us. The virus caused death, disability, and permanent illness for some, closed businesses, interrupted education, and upended lives in myriad ways.

Much of what the medical establishment told us turned out to be wrong. Getting vaccinated was once the pathway to ending the coronavirus pandemic. Last April, President Joe Biden promised the country:

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Getting together with friends, going to the park for a picnic without needing to mask up, we’re back to that place now as long as you get vaccinated. So go get the shot.

We did. Now America, and much of the first world is vaccinated. In the U.S., among the 12-and-up population, 80 percent have had at least one vaccine dose. And still COVID cases are rising, in the U.S. and abroad.

Gibraltar is over 100 percent vaccinated yet they are cancelling Christmas gatherings due to surging cases. Ditto next door as Reuters reported, “Portugal, which has one of the world’s highest rates of vaccination against COVID-19, announced it would reimpose restrictions to stop a surge in cases.”

Vermont, the most vaccinated state in the U.S. is also seeing a plethora of cases. My home state of Colorado’s vaccination rate mirrors the national average and every day we hear about case spikes and overflowing ICUs.

Clearly something is amiss when locations with the highest vaccination rates also have the highest number of new COVID cases and hospitalizations. What’s going on?

The vaccines do not appear to be stopping COVID, despite assurances that they would. Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged in a recent interview his new view of vaccines providing, “A waning of immunity not only against infection but against hospitalization and to some extent death, which is starting to now involve all age groups.”

Local officials are now reaching into their bag of tricks and have pulled out masks again, as if masking up in public will magically reduce cases. We were masked up most of last year, yet here we are, déjà vu all over again with rising cases.

Metro Denver recently imposed another mask mandate for everyone over age two, even if fully vaccinated, requiring a face covering in all indoor public spaces. This will remain in place through the new year, how much longer is anyone’s guess. Lifting the mandate will be based on case numbers, hospital ICU capacity, and other metrics.

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The mask mandate is at the county, not state level, incentivizing residents to travel to an adjacent county to shop or exercise maskless, hurting local businesses forced to live under these mandates.

Will this new mandate stop the current case surge? As for most COVID surges, cases rise then fall, as the Denver Post’s COVID tracker trendline suggests. The current surge will likely wane over the next few weeks or months with or without masks, just as summer COVID surges petered out in southern states.

Regardless of what is happening in Colorado, it can always be worse in California. In Santa Cruz, where the Beach Boys went “Surfin’ USA”, the mask mandate is even more draconian: “The health officer order even requires masks to be worn in private settings, including homes, when people who are not from the household are present.”

If your neighbor comes over for a slice of post-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, even if you are both fully vaccinated and symptom-free, you are both required to mask up. Perhaps it is better to go surfing than visit friends or neighbors. Don’t think about heading south to L.A. as it’s no better there, “Masks are now required in all indoor public places in Los Angeles County.”

Are masks even helpful? Let’s ask the experts.

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Fauci was anti-mask, saying masks were ineffective at protecting against respiratory viruses. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams agreed. Fauci then changed his mind, recommending one, then two, masks.

The Copenhagen mask study found minimal benefit to masks in stopping the Chinese coronavirus. Specifically, the study concluded:

The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use.

From a viral particle size perspective, masks also do little. The COVID virus is 50-140 nm, while the pore size in standard surgical masks is 300 nm to 10,000 nm. This is using a chain-link fence to stop mosquitoes.

Clearly the science isn’t settled regarding the benefits, or lack of, for masking. And there are negatives too, including making breathing more difficult, particularly when exercising indoors. Developing communication and facial recognition skills in children may be hampered, based on studies. Then there is the pollution.

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