Wearing a mask is not political — it’s a matter of life and death

As a member of multiple categories of vulnerable people, I have a very personal interest in having COVID-19 defeated. And it’s possible. All people need to do is something very simple. We haven’t had to send our young off to war. All that’s necessary is to wear a mask 100% of the time you’re in public places if there is any chance that you will not be able to maintain social distancing throughout your time away from your home. So it’s a little uncomfortable. You’re saving lives.

Am attaching two articles that take slightly different viewpoints. The key point is that the percentage of people wearing masks is directly reflected in the number of infections in that community. We need at least 75% — and 100% would be better.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahhansen/2020/06/13/masks-help-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-studies-say-but-wearing-them-still-a-political-issue/#6563c03b604e

Masks Help Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus, Studies Say—But Wearing Them Still A Political Issue

Sarah Hansen Forbes Staff

TOPLINE

Despite a raft of data suggesting that wearing face masks (in conjunction with hand washing and social distancing) is effective in preventing person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus, the practice is still a partisan political issue in some places even as new cases continue to rise. 

Speaker Pelosi Holds Ceremonial Swearing-In For Republican Representatives
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a ceremonial swearing-in event for new Republican House … [+] GETTY IMAGES

KEY FACTS

new review published in The Lancet looked at 172 observational studies and found that masks are effective in many settings in preventing the spread of the coronavirus (though the results cannot be treated with absolute certainty since they were not obtained through randomized trials, the Washington Post notes).

Another recent study found that wearing a mask was the most effective way to reduce the transmission of the virus. 

90% of Americans now say they’re wearing a mask in compliance with the CDC’s recommendations, up from 78% in April, according to a new poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation. 

But despite the conclusive research and what seems to be a public consensus, masks remain a divisive subject. 

As new coronavirus cases surge in Arizona, where cases have jumped 300% since the beginning of May, for instance, Governor Doug Ducey has not made it mandatory to wear masks in public, and in Orange County, California, officials on Friday rescinded a mask mandate after public backlash, even as cases rise; when cases peaked in April, on the other hand, New York made wearing a mask mandatory when people could not socially distance from others, and other states passed similar restrictions. 

Part of the politicization of masks may have to do with resistance to heavy-handed government mandates, which in this case could cause people who are already skeptical of wearing face coverings to dig in their heels.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

Lindsay Wiley, an American University Washington College of Law professor specializing in public health law and ethics, told NPR last month that stringent mask requirements “can actually cause people who are skeptical of wearing masks to double down.” And in turn, that “reinforce[s] what they perceive to be a positive association with refusing to wear a mask … that they love freedom, that they’re smart and skeptical of public health recommendations.” 

KEY BACKGROUND

Masks have also become a heavily politicized issue in recent weeks: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last month voiced his support of mask wearing in public, for instance, in contrast to President Trump and other GOP leaders who have portrayed masks as a sign of weakness. Trump infamously refused to wear a face mask as he toured a Ford facility in Michigan last month. When asked about the mask, he said that he wore one in private but “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has  voiced her support for the practice: “real men wear masks,” she said earlier this month. 

TANGENT

A video posted to Twitter on Friday showed a street in New York City’s East Village that was packed with people ignoring social distancing guidelines, most of whom were not wearing masks, drew widespread criticism. “When there’s a new spike people will blame the (masked) protests, but it’s really gonna be maskless crap like this,” one Twitter user wrote. 

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/10/study-suggests-face-masks-could-prevent-or-lessen-second-covid-19-wave.html

Study shows how face masks could prevent a second wave of Covid-19 — but there’s a catch

Published Wed, Jun 10 20206:06 PM EDTUpdated Thu, Jun 11 202011:46 AM EDTCory Stieg@corystieg

@Elisall | Twenty20

For months, Americans have been told to wear a mask or cloth face covering in public settings. A face covering can prevent people who are asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 from spreading the virus to other people.

But now new projections from the University of Cambridge illustrate how impactful the simple measure could be: Researchers found that that if 100% of people wore masks all the time in public, that, combined with lockdown measures, could prevent a second wave of Covid-19 from hitting during the 18 months that experts say it will take to get a vaccine to market.  

The catch? There’s no way everyone would comply. (More on that later.)

Luckily the study also projected that if at least 50% of people wore masks in public, that could still flatten the disease wave.

“We have little to lose from the widespread adoption of facemasks, but the gains could be significant,” Renata Retkute, a doctor and coauthor and Cambridge team member, said in a press release.

But data shows that Americans, at least, are far from compliant.

According to a Gallup poll conducted in April, only 36% of Americans said they always wore a mask while out, with 32% reporting that they sometimes did and 31% saying they never did. 

To put that in perspective, according to the theoretical models, face mask adoption by 25% of people could be enough to flatten the initial peak, but would still lead to a second wave Covid-19 that’s more pronounced than the first. 

survey from YouGov of 89,347 American adults conducted between March 26 and April 29 found that people in certain states are more compliant than others when it comes to masks too. For example, in New York, 52% of people said they wore a mask when outside the home, while only 31% of Wisconsin residents reported using them.

Researchers used two models to determine the effect of different proportions — 0%, 25%, 50% and 100% — of people wearing masks for the Cambridge study.

And it’s important to note that these findings are all theoretical. Since Covid-19 is a new disease, “it is impossible to get accurate experimental evidence” to use in a study, the authors wrote. The only way to run experiments is to use a mathematical model. 

That said, experts agree that masks are still an important prevention measure, in addition to social distancing and hand hygiene.

White House advisor and immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC’s “Halftime Report” that he has “no doubt” Americans who aren’t wearing masks in public (especially in large gatherings) are increasing the risk of transmission.

“When we see [wearing masks] not happening, there is a concern that that may actually propagate the further spread of infection,” he said.

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