On Masks, I Get The Message…

face-masks-chart

The New York Times has been a primary offender in fearmongering and hyping the pandemic, while trying to bolster the efforts of power-abusing mayors and governors to make life miserable for the public in order to show they are “doing something.” Thus when the Times published this article, with the sub-head, “The accumulating research may be imperfect, and it’s still evolving, but the takeaway is simple. Right now, masks are necessary to slow the pandemic,” I assumed that I would read an unequivocal, full-throated, air-tight brief for mask-wearing.

Well, it wasn’t. In fact, there is so much equivocation and doubt in the article, which announces itself as pro-mask, that it reinforces the conclusion that the case for masks is being overstated, which is to say dishonestly reported. The takeaway is “simple” if one is inclined to blindly follow orders without good reason. I’m not.

The thing is rife with red flags. “May be imperfect” is a euphemism for “it might turn out that this is all wrong.” “It’s still evolving” is another dodge. One section of the article is headed, “Over time, recommendations on masks have changed. That’s how science works.” Wait, aren’t we always being told that challenging conventional scientific “consensus” is being a science denier? Skepticism is just a caution that what is being pronounced as the absolute answer isn’t as certain as its advocates claim. Here, the Times is saying that science being proved wrong is “how science works.” This obviously a procrustean standard at best. “Believe what we say, because we are scientists, but when it turns out we were wrong, that just proves how trustworthy we are.”

The Times says:

The C.D.C. has been criticized for an about-face on masks since the beginning of the pandemic, when it urged only symptomatic people to wear them. The agency did not recommend universal use of face coverings until April. (The World Health Organization was even later, issuing its endorsement in July.)The agency was reluctant to recommend masks at first because it worried about a run on the high-quality masks needed for health care workers, Dr. Marr said. “I think it took time to realize that there’s different objectives in the health care setting versus in the community,” she said.

In fact, what this tells us is that these trustworthy scientists and experts deliberately withhold information from the public for their own reasons. As I would say to a witness on cross examination, “You admit you lied then. How do we know you’re not lying now?” And the only answer to that is, “You don’t.” Another doctor interviewed tells the Times, changes in guidance “should be seen as a sign that the policy is following the latest science.” That’s funny: didn’t the article just tell us that Dr. Fauci’s change in guidance on masks had nothing to do with science, and everything to do with expediency?

“Somehow that change has been framed by some people as public health experts not knowing what we’re doing,” another doctor says. “But actually, we should see this change in guidance as part of the necessary evolution. That’s the cornerstone of a solid public health response.” That’s doubletalk, and Yoo’s Rationalization, “It isn’t what it is.” That change was an admission of a lie.

“Evolution” my..foot.

As for the rest of the article, we get vague and head-scratching statements like…

With the coronavirus on the march through much of the United States, scientists are urging Americans to adopt the few health measures shown to slow the virus: universal mask use, social distancing, good ventilation indoors and hand hygiene.

Slow? If they slow the virus, why is the virus matching? Slow how and how much?

Among public health experts, there is near-unanimous endorsement of universal mask mandates to shield people from the virus and slow the pandemic.

Mandates? Mandates mean penalties. It’s easy for “health experts” to demand mandates—they don’t care about any consequences no related to health. “Sure, what the heck, make everyone wear masks, day and night. Can’t hurt!” Remember the recommendations that we all wear masks during sex? That we wear masks while eating and drinking? Can’t hurt! And there’s slow again…show how much, and how reliably? Is any level of inconvenience, discomfort, and disruption of normal human interaction and the enjoyment of life a reasonable price to pay for this “slowing”? Since health officials literally care about only one thing, they don’t even consider such important factors as trade-offs. What does “near unanimous” mean, exactly? Maybe the non-conforming experts are the rational ones. Maybe they’re the right ones.

Meanwhile, why should anyone obey or take seriously mandates issued by elected officials who don’t follow the rules themselves?

“Increasing the proportion of people who wear masks by 15 percent could prevent the need for lockdowns and cut economic losses that may reach $1 trillion, about 5 percent of gross domestic product, the C.D.C. said.”

Could? Could? So this is just a guess, then, right? A guess by the same organization that regards being wrong and having to retract what it said was true earlier proof of what’s wonderful about “science.”

“If it can’t help us avert the shutdowns that are happening, it can certainly help us come down the backside of this peak and then keep things down,” Dr. Brooks said.

Oh! So maybe it CAN’T prevent the need for shutdowns.

“The term mask refers to any kind of protective facial covering, but its effectiveness depends greatly on the type…The average person, on the other hand, is exposed to much less virus and less often, and so can be protected with a well-made cloth covering, Dr. Brooks said. The best cloth face coverings, which have multiple layers that can trap viral particles — the thickest are mostly impervious to light — are as effective as surgical masks in some circumstances.”

In what circumstances? What are the standards for a “well-made” mask? I see many people wearing paper masks, and wrote earlier about lattice masks on sale over the web. Are there standards for what masks are effective? Er, a, well, no, not officially. Why the hell not? Later we learn that it’s because there isn’t enough study data to say for sure what the standards for an effective mask should be.

But we should all wear masks anyway, because…

The average person can be protected, at least somewhat, with a well-made cloth covering, according to the C.D.C.

That’s a double indefinite! “At least somewhat” and a “well-made cloth mask” when we have no standards regarding what “well-made” means, because…

All kinds of masks offer the wearer some degree of protection, multiple studies have shown. Exactly how much protection is not yet clear.

Oh.

There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings, too, stop virus expelled by an infected person when breathing, talking, singing or shouting — controlling the spread at the source.

That’s funny: there is “increasing evidence” that the 2020 election was full of dishonest election tricks and efforts to distort the vote, and the New York Times is leading the shouts that such evidence isn’t good enough to conclude anything or take major action….and that’s correct.

“This discovery became especially important once scientists learned that people who don’t even feel symptoms may spread the virus.”

Wait: is it increasing evidence, or is it a discovery? They are not the same thing. This is dishonest advocacy. designed for casual and gullible readers.

“More than 50 percent of all infections may be transmitted by asymptomatic people.”

Or, apparently, they may not.

Critics of mask-wearing measures have long demanded a randomized clinical trial that establishes their effectiveness. But while such trials are the standard for drugs and vaccines, they are not ideal for evaluating behaviors subject to people’s recall, experts said.

Boy, those ignorant critics demanding actual proof before they agree to alter the way they live their lives!

“Show me the clinical trials that showed the efficacy of hand washing,” Dr. Volckens said. “And I think we all agree that smoking causes cancer and is bad for you — does that mean that we can’t believe that smoking causes cancer because there isn’t a clinical trial?”

Do you really want us to list all of the things the public agreed on that turned out to be untrue once actual research and data were available? So we should just believe this because the “experts” say so, I guess. This is the “scientific” argument.

“A Danish study published on Wednesday was a randomized clinical trial assessing whether a mask protected wearers. It found no statistically significant effect. But the study has serious limitations, experts said: It was conducted when community transmission in Denmark was low, and masks were far from the norm.”

The actual study on masks isn’t good enough, but the near-unanimous belief of health experts without studies is to be trusted and obeyed.

“’It’s hard to do these studies in real life,’” [one doctor] said.”

Oh…we should all wear masks without sufficient evidence because actually finding out whether they work is “hard” ! Isn’t science wonderful?

“The study still found a 15 percent protection for the wearer, although the figure was not statistically significant. But it may be an underestimate, Dr. Marr and other researchers said.”

It “may” be. Then again, it may not. This is one powerful argument for masks, don’t you think?

“I still think masks are the most cheap, effective, versatile intervention that we can have if social distancing is not possible or variable, or if indoor ventilation is poor,” said Julian Tang, honorary professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

And this is what I think. I think the New York Times set out to make the case for mandatory masks and found that the case was weak, so they engaged in appeals to authority, deceit, cherry-picking and dishonesty. I think that rather than critically examine the justification for the sweeping endorsements of wearing masks, it just resorted to pushing a narrative at the expense of public understanding, counting on their readers to accept what is basically a lot of evocations as fact. I think that if this is the best the nation’s paper of record can do to make the claim that masks are crucial when it undertakes the job—this was a special feature in the Science section!—then the public is being misled, once again, “for their own good.”

What the Times article essentially says is,

“Health professionals don’t really know how much masks will prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus, but it’s probably better than nothing, and since they don’t care at all about the many, many negative consequences of doing it, we’re expected to do what they say.”

Case made.

Got it.


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32 thoughts on “On Masks, I Get The Message…

  1. One aspect of the mask lunacy which amuses me is how the “existential threat” of climate change has, in some cases, literally gone out the window. Yes, literally. My children’s school thankfully had the stones to reopen for in-person learning but they still have to run the gauntlet of protean state “science” mandates. With winter upon us, the kids were told to bring blankets to school because, under Covid regulations, classroom windows must remain open (through a Massachusetts winter, no less). They’ll probably double the tuition next year to cover the heating bill.

    Remember the moral panic about disposable plastic the last few years? Forget about that, for now anyway. Single-serving plastic is now our savior and recommended by 4 out of 5 public health experts. Actually, scratch recommended – now mandated. And just look at all the refuse from the obsessive cleaning and recleaning of every goddamned solid surface we touch. Never mind the studies which say Covid doesn’t survive on objects; the science has “evolved”.

    I was skeptical of Covid narrative from the beginning because the tune sounded eerily familiar to the that sung by climate alarmists. I didn’t deny it was a threat, but the certainty with which the experts spun their apocalyptic tales gave me immediate pause. And when their predictions failed spectacularly, state governments were immune to the good news and just doubled-down on restricting freedom. It’s bad enough government agencies cracking down on violators, but we now have a nation of petty-tyrant citizen-police, happy to help expose the freedom-loving heretics who won’t be brought to heel.

    This is little more than a power grab and I fear that the Governors most abusing this newfound ability will ever release leash. “Public health” is the Commerce Clause for the Executive Branch (state). It’s vague enough to mean whatever they want and they will exploit it at every turn in their mission to force you to do whatever asinine thing they want. I’ve had enough. Get me to a deep red state!

    • “Through a Massachusetts winter no less”. My elementary school in CT was built in stages between 1910 and 1930. We actually had to keep the windows open in winter because the heating ran so hot (when the original 1910 patched and expanded boiler worked, at least). Same at the 1950’s dorms at UConn. Once the heat was turned on in late fall, it ran until early spring. No way to turn it off without manually draining all the pipes. It turns out heating systems in older buildings were designed with the 1918 pandemic in mind, so that buildings could have fresh air circulating all year round.

      I eventually read

  2. We have progressed to the point where many people are terrified of any interaction with someone not wearing a mask. Or is it that they’re now terrified of simply coming within 6 feet of another person?

    Actually, now that I think about it, this could be a long term solution for climate change. After all, the basic cause of ever increasing pollution and emissions is ever increasing population. If we’re afraid to come within 6 feet of one another, well, eventually humanity won’t be emitting as much any more. 🙂

    So I wear a plastic face shield — my company requires face coverings and so do most stores (oh, and I guess so does the governor). I can make a serious case that a face shield is actually better than your average cloth mask (especially when so many people don’t cover their nose), but it’s the polite thing to do.

    The thing that infuriates me is the certitude of the ‘science’ people when making their pronouncements and their certitude a couple weeks later when they pronounce a U-turn with their recommendations. We’re supposed to ‘follow the science,’ but ‘the science’ bobs and weaves and does its best to elude us.

  3. Yesterday I read a tweet that Jesus would have stayed home and worn a mask. This inane argument is as silly as many of the must wear masks regardless if anyone is physically in your vicinity, wearing the same mask over and over without washing.

    • Jesus? Who cares about what Jesus would do? He’s a mythical character believed in by idiots. SCIENCE!

      Another example of liberal politics replacing the religions they’ve snuffed out.

    • Is this the same Jesus who defied authority so much that they finally crucified him? Seems like this Christ fellow wasn’t exactly a compliant follower of arbitrary rules. Heck, the guy was such a contrarian, he didn’t even have the decency to stay dead after they executed him…

  4. “The more people who wear a mask, the more the community is protected and therefore the more you individually benefit,” said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 response program. “It’s like a herd effect.”

    We could easily rewrite the above statement to say, the more people who isolate themselves from all other humans, the more the community is protected and therefore the more you individually benefit.

    Or,

    The more people take public transportation the lower the potential for traffic accidents and thus the more the community and you will benefit.

    I say bunk. This type of logic imputes costs and benefits that may not reflect my valuations or reality.
    None of the above statements can be proven true and are more likely to be proven false. Dr. Brooks should understand that maximum social benefit occurs when individuals are allowed to maximize their own benefits. Unless and until it can be clinically determined that doing / or not doing a, b, or c will actually lower overall individual utility we cannot say that social utility is maximized by doing / or not doing a, b or c. Everything else is mere opinion and not fact. If we decide that maximizing social welfare is the ideological goal be prepared for significant restrictions on the choices you have now. Your liberty is a function of your ability to make your own choices.

    I would like to know, how exactly will I benefit if we behave in a manner that may slow but extend the duration of the pandemic? Dr. Brooks has no idea on what I value so he is making a baseless* claim when he says the more I will benefit. *I intend to use the term baseless every time someone cannot prove what they say.

    No it is not like a “herd effect”.

    Herd effects occur when everyone adopts a particular behavior because others in the herd are doing a given thing. Lemmings throw themselves over cliffs due to herd effects. Herd effects can be seen in investor behavior – think of the final scenes in “Trading Places” when everyone thinks the Dukes have an inside track on frozen concentrated OJ. Herd effects are not synonymous with herd immunity. Yell fire in a crowded dark room and the herd effect is panic.

    The original statement from Dr. Brooks should scare the crap out of anyone who values liberty. From an economics perspective, as individuals protect themselves the combined individual techniques yield some initial synergistic advantages to the group. This is called increasing returns but at some point diminishing returns set in, and ultimately, we begin to see decreasing benefits.

    Tonight, as the six o’clock hour approached and the Larry O’Connor show on WMAL was ending Governor Hogan began his PSA encouraging that we all do our part to slow the spread of Covid-19. He gave an impassioned plea for us all to do our part. He then concluded his PSA by stating emphatically “Wear The Damn Mask”. Guess how I reacted to his last comment and how likely I will be to respond positively to his pleas. This PSA was an good illustration of increasing returns initially, then as he droned on diminishing returns and then with his wear the damn mask comment he went into decreasing returns territory.

  5. Tremendous explication du text, Monsieur Marshalin! Tres bon! Magnifique. Quelle funny.

    I’ve been wearing the same paper mask I keep in my car for the duration of THE PANDEMIC. It’s a prop. I’ve also noticed all the similar blue paper masks littering the highways and by-ways. I guess we can’t be bothered to keep America clean when there’s A PANDEMIC!

    • I just love it when people get all excited about using a new word like “pandemic.” All of a sudden, everyone’s an epidemiologist! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  6. No different than the many examples of previous confirmed science such as that about second hand smoke, the coming ice age, nuclear winter, over population, starvation, rising sea levels that were going to wipe out the coasts decades ago.

    Until people stand up to these hypocrites, point out how absurdly incorrect “the science” has been on most of these issues, it will continue. Make it know with your spending and your voice that you do not and will not support companies that support these narratives.

  7. “Health professionals don’t really know how much masks will prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus, but it’s probably better than nothing […]”

    Up to this point, I think you’ve got the right take-away from the article, Jack, and I hope the average reader does, too.

    “[…] and since they don’t care at all about the many, many negative consequences of doing it, we’re expected to do what they say.”

    We obviously disagree about this part of the conclusion, though. I think it’s fair to say the public health establishment finds the actual and potential harms of mask-wearing to be minimal compared to the potential benefits. Whether this is enough to issue a mandate, recommendation or whatever is/should be a matter of debate.

      • We could, but I’m afraid it pans out similarly. There obviously are no (and can be no ethical) controlled trials comparing lockdown versus no lockdown and I doubt I can change your opinion on the usefulness of lockdowns any more than the existing body of inferential and observational research can.

        I do think, if we’re worried about overreach, quarantine/lockdown is a much more scientific and logical hill to die on than masks. Even if one thinks mask mandates/requirements/recommendations for masks are draconian, quibbling over the pros/cons of masks seems (to me) like missing the forest at best and science-ignorant at worst.

        I say this, respectfully, because I do think the mask debate dilutes and weakens the more legitimate and pressing concerns of those, like yourself, who want reasoned limits on pandemic response measures.

        If it’s worth anything I am in support of local small business associations and colleges pushing back against shutdown/operation restrictions, because there are legitimate issues with how it’s being handled here.

        Bars (and restaurants) are higher risk because of the need the have masks off and (now in most climes) the general need to be indoors. I know early on there was anecdotal evidence that bars were higher risk than restaurants because mac-wearing and social distancing were more poorly adhered to when people drink (and it makes sense to me). I haven’t been following that thread much more than that because local restrictions have not singled bars out.

        • Why not encourage older people with health problems and even younger people with serious health problems to hide out as much as possible while allowing younger, healthy people to go about their business? Who’s getting hospitalized and dying? Not many people under 65. Aren’t we having a lot of these deaths because the U.S. keeps people alive to unprecedented ages and beyond? The populous has been ignoring the CDC about obesity and smoking and drinking since the CDC came into existence. But now it’s all deference to public health people well after the horse has left the barn? Sorry, I don’t get it.

          • I myself don’t find arguments to quarantine the vulnerable to be convincing. In case it isn’t obvious, hospitals and long-term care homes are (generally) already doing what they can to prevent COVID introduction and transmission, and it still occurs. Logically, for such measures to be effective, we would need to quarantine the vulnerable, and their caregivers, and those essential employees they deal with, and their households, and their close contacts…you can see where this goes. That, or we actually have the vulnerable and their caregivers hermetically sealed from the world, and I don’t think you can quite find enough caregivers able and willing to do so. To be fair, “sucks for them” is a perfectly understandable position. It just doesn’t happen to be the one I and most policy-makers currently adopt, and the “sucks for them” crowd should be clear about the limitations of alternatives.

            Note this is completely separate from the fact that in most (likely essentially all) jurisdictions, allowing the population to acquire COVID at a rapid pace will generally mean a good number of younger, healthier folk will get sick and require care also. We all know the percentages of young and healthy people who get sick is very small, but applied to a large enough population, it is enough to be worried about, both from the perspective of the young and healthy unlucky enough to get seriously ill, and from the perspective from a healthcare system that will be strained.

            As for smoking, alcohol and other health-affecting vices, I hate them too! Their spread (the spread of their use?) is not quite as contagious, though. Still, I am completely in agreement of open and even-handed debate about what to do, lockdown-wise, about COVID.

      • Right…and that’s why I try to steer clear of the policy side of things. I also generally agree with you that science advisor/medical officer of health/whatevers the world over should stay in their lanes and advise.

        I try to do the same here. I see unclear/incorrect interpretations of science and I point them out.

        And I don’t speak for all public/health professionals, but I do care about the consequences of pandemic measures. I really don’t care about the consequences of masks, though.

      • Jack from a public health perspective working toilets, clean potable water and trash collection are far more important than nurses. Nurses fix health issues, plumbers and garbage collectors prevent such issues. We tend to forget their relative value in modern society.

        I would want neither dictating policy that requires balancing competing interests.

      • “That’s why we don’t put public policy in the hands of plumbers”

        Perhaps we should. They’re used to getting rid of toxic effluent. Instead, we put the producers of such material in charge.

  8. Masks, like vaccines require a cost/benefit analysis. Just like people who just recovered from COVID shouldn’t take the vaccine (there are costs, but little benefit), there are good cases where masks shouldn’t be worn. My aunt is basically stranded in her house. She has asthma that makes it virtually impossible for her to wear a mask. Her state mandates mask wearing and has eliminated any health-related exemptions. I guess the ADA is overridden by executive orders. She isn’t even allowed in the grocery store and she lives alone. She can’t even go to the doctor if she is sick.

    My wife has to wear a mask at work all day. They are taking blood carbon dioxide levels before and after mask wear. On a Monday, after a weekend off, the blood CO2 is about 23-24 mMol/L, on the low end of the 23-29 mMol/L normal range. Then next morning, after not wearing a mask for 16 hours, it is 32-34 mMol/L. It is still elevated. All the new ‘research’ says this won’t happen, but her coworkers are experiencing the same thing. I asked her why they don’t take it at the end of the shift. Well, the OSHA regulation below is why.

    Click to access carbonmonoxide-factsheet.pdf

    Remember, we had plenty of mask research before 2020 to tell us if masks were effective at stopping the spread of viruses. They all said no or were inconclusive. Why are the new studies saying different things? Is it because studies that come to the ‘wrong’ conclusion aren’t allowed to be published anymore? We only get censored science now (thank you global warming research for blazing that trail). If you need a publication for tenure and promotion, make sure you have the ‘correct’ viewpoint in your ‘conclusions’, because it is the only way you are going to get published. I don’t think you can trust any study done in this field after March 2020 or so.

    https://thehill.com/homenews/news/526756-former-cdc-director-criticizes-new-study-that-raises-doubt-about-wearing-masks

    • I read somewhere that wearing these masks may actually increase respiratory illness. Something about moisture (especially going from outdoors to indoors in cold weather) from breathing making the masks more susceptible to bad stuff sticking to them. I have asthma so this is concerning.

      My wife and I noticed that after about a half hour of mask wearing, I get nauseous. We couldn’t understand why every time we went shopping, I’d have to drink black tea to deal with my stomach discomfort. Now we take very short trips, which ironically means, we have to go out more often.

      I’m glad you brought up this CO2 issue. All this just makes me wonder what negative consequences to health will result for some (or many) who wear these masks.

  9. I’ll try to attack this from the other side.

    Throughout this pandemic, We have been told things that are not true by scientists, experts, pundits, politicians, and people speaking very authoritatively, but directly out their ass. One of my left leaning friends (who nolonger speaks to me) told me last February that COVID wasn’t any more deadly than the flu, her friend at the CDC said so. We were told up until last April that wearing masks was giving in to tin foil hat conspiracy theorists, and we were taking PPE away from health professionals, hell…. Up until September, the WHO couldn’t even definitively say that the disease was airborne.

    They’re all unintelligent, incompetent, dishonest, or a mixture of the three. There are no other explanations. And so at some point, we need to apply the Duck Soup test (Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?) and do what makes sense.

    It is facially obvious that certain things are and remain true, and it doesn’t all cut one way. It is obvious virus is airborne. It is obvious that the virus discriminates against the old. It is obvious that masks do something, and having them is better than not. While the experts were either lying to prevent a run on PPE that they’d never use, or waiting for the twice-peer-reviewed study to tell them what to think, people like you or me can look at what’s going on and do the obvious, deftly avoiding absurdity. Could you imagine what adherence to what the “experts” are telling us would look like? Isolating family members into different rooms at home, masking during sex, not playing music, getting rid of your pets, shuttering business, slowly dying while watching your nightly dose of state-approved pablum from CNN. But that doesn’t mean that nothing they’re saying is right either.

    On masks, because it’s topical; If you plotted the infection rate of nations who had mandatory mask wearing back in March against the infection rate of nations that didn’t, you’ll find that the infection rate in places that did was about half that of places that didn’t. Does that mean the issue was masks? Not necessarily, places that masked mandatorily were places like South Korea, where the culture was already used to pandemic measures, and so they did a whole lot of other useful behaviors on top of masking. One of those useful behaviors was masking.

    Do an experiment at home: Light a candle, put on a mask, and try to blow it out. You probably can’t. I only say “probably” because there is no standardized “mask” out there. I saw pictures of a woman who crocheted a mask. Guess what? That’s not going to work. You’re going to be able to blow out the candle. You’re also going to look like a crazy person who tied a doiley to your face.

    This isn’t particularly complicated, and I’m not going to pretend like it is. We don’t need certainty to do the obvious. In the case of a power outage, I’m not going to wait at a light-controlled intersection for the green light that isn’t coming. I wear a mask, not because it’s required (it’s actually not here, right now), not because I’m overly concerned about my own health (I’m not), but because it’s good citizenship. It makes sense to try to slow the spread of the disease, and masking obviously helps… Your mileage may vary, but it obviously does.

    Which is, by the way, a departure from what I used to say. Previous to this, humanity had never created an effective vaccine for a coronavirus. My take was that not knowing if a vaccine was coming this year, next year, or ever, we should probably have COVID parties, especially among the young, to build herd immunity. If a vaccine isn’t coming anytime soon, the virus will eventually have its way with the population, and we we’re just dragging out the inevitable while destroying the economy, and contributing to mass depression. Now, with several very promising vaccines coming down the pipe, it makes sense to curb the spread because it will probably, actually save lives.

  10. Joe Biden has been reported in a few outlets (eg,. The Daily Mail) saying there will be 250,000 additional covid deaths between now and the time he’s inaugurated. That would mean a doubling in deaths in two months. I can find no reports of this quote on CNN, The NYT or the WaPo. Did Joe really mean to say 250K additional deaths? Did he misspeak? What’s going on? Are media outlets covering for him by burying a blunder? If not, where’d he get that number?

  11. “Show me the clinical trials that showed the efficacy of hand washing,” Dr. Volckens said.

    Okay, Doc, where should I send them? Because there are literally hundreds of such trials that have been conducted in the past century or so. Here’s a review of sixteen such trials conducted just between 2009 and 2014:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195670115004892

    A simple internet search turns up dozens more just on the first page of results. This has been studied to death in fairly controlled environments (hospitals, nursing homes, etc), with consistent results that indicate that yes, clean hands are less likely to spread disease than dirty ones (and hand sanitizer is not nearly as effective as plain old soap and water).

    Now show me the clinical trials that show the efficacy of masks with the same thoroughness. It’s ridiculous that we’re almost a year into this stupid pandemic and nobody has conducted a half-decent trial on whether masks work or not.

    I don’t know who this Dr. Volckens character is, but I do know I’m not inclined to listen to anything he has to say on the subject of public health if he’s going to display his ignorance so proudly.

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