To mask or not to mask?
Americans are being urged to, forced to, guilted into, and bullied into wearing masks. If we don't wear masks, Democrats smugly tell us, we're selfish killers who have no regard for the life and safety of others. But is that true? It turns out that the science about masks is anything but settled — and that masks come with some significant downsides.
Even as Fauci the Hypocrite says masks for thee but not for me, serious scientific authorities are moving in the other direction. Holland's scientific community holds that masks don't help and could hurt:
'Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,' said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. 'There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.'
[The Outbreak Management Team] believes they detract from a clear three-pronged message that has kept deaths from coronavirus down to less than half the rate in Britain: wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and stay at home if suffering any symptoms.
The one exception outside of the medical frontline has been on public transport, where masks are mandatory on the basis it is difficult to stay apart on crowded buses, ferries and trains.
'The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they're immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative.'
Judging by what I see around me, the Dutch are correct. Most people handle and wear their masks in a way that confers minimal benefits and that can, instead, trap the virus inside people's masks.
The Danes feel the same as the Dutch do:
"All these countries recommending face masks haven't made their decisions based on new studies," said Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark's Rigshospitale, according to Bloomberg News. (Denmark has since updated its guidelines to encourage, but not require, the use of masks on public transit where social distancing may not be possible.)
Adding to the mask debate is an announcement from two prominent New York dentists who claim that masks, by causing chronic dry mouth, are driving up the incidences of dangerous tooth decay and gum disease. They label this problem "mask mouth" and say it has the potential to be deadly:
"Gum disease — or periodontal disease — will eventually lead to strokes and an increased risk of heart attacks," says Dr. Marc Sclafani, another co-founder of One Manhattan Dental.
What's also changing the mask debate is that those well-run Asian countries that wear masks most of the time, and that seemed to have avoided the Wuhan virus, are suddenly being hit hard, despite the masks:
[T]he case for masks has taken another body blow as we are seeing large spikes in heavy mask wearing countries like Japan and the Philippines.
Just focusing on the United States, the states that had little masking early on did the best early on. Meanwhile, disaster areas like New York, which adopted mandates early, did far worse. California has never opened back up and has had a mask mandate. They ended up with the same spikes that Texas and Florida saw, which are now receding with far less deaths per capita than the North East saw during their spikes. Again, there's absolutely no correlation to be found.
Like the famous Mesopotamian story Appointment in Samarra, it appears that, for now, we can no more outrun the Wuhan virus than we can outrun death.
In some ways, the worst thing of all about masks is how they erase who we are. At the store, when you smile at a small child in a shopping cart, and the child stonily stares at you, you realize that the child doesn't see you. He sees eyes, and that's all.
The compelling emotional states that the human mouth is capable of showing have vanished. Is that person mad at me? Happy to see me? Friend or foe? We can no longer read our fellow citizens. Even when we're in a room together, we are isolated from each other.
Our entire nation — men, women, and children — has all the emotional expressiveness of a room full of women in burqas. Our individuality — something that lies at the very heart of our inherent rights as expressed in the Bill of Rights — becomes meaningless when we are all masked ciphers.
If people want to wear masks, let them. But until we know that Dr. Fauci and his team are looking at the science, as the Europeans are, rather than making it up as they go along, mandatory masks have no place in America.
Image: No, they've run out of face masks, by Bauschron; CC A-SA 4.0.