Editorial: Are facemasks effective? BOS isn’t sure

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald

Column By Mike Bibb

I’ve written several times since the COVID-19 contagion invaded our shores that the wearing of facemasks as a defense against the virus is a questionable tactic. Actually, in the beginning, we were assured by health officials masks provided little protection and strapping one on was not really necessary. However, like so many things involving government intrusion, the rules changed and we were then advised face coverings should be worn. 

Still, their effectiveness remained in dispute. At the recent Graham County Board of Supervisors meeting (Jan. 4, 2021), board members made comments they were not sure if facemasks were really effective. 

Nevertheless, they voted 2 to 1 to extend the mask regulation for another month.  A sort of “We have to do something to help contain the virus” was the rationale. Which I respect. 

Yet, desperately wishing a hodge-podge of various concocted facemasks is a viable solution seems to be based more upon personal opinion than scientific evidence. First, the experts are now telling us the recovery rate from COVID-19 is over 97%.  The disease isn’t as lethal as we’ve been led to believe. 

Secondly, most fatalities are the result of preexisting health issues, not the actual virus itself.  A COVID infection seems to accelerate an already deteriorating condition. As a result, deaths from obesity, heart failure, diabetes, cancer, and other serious medical ailments are much more common than a COVID-related demise. 

Yet, we are not provided daily updates on the numbers of infections and deaths from these particular sicknesses. Why not?  Maybe because the amount of money being spent on diagnosing and treating COVID is mind-boggling. 

From testing, to doctor visits, to hospital stays to medicines, and vaccines, billions of dollars are being disbursed as an antidote. The more COVID reported cases, the more money to be made. In the meantime, our society and economy are being turned upside down by government-imposed lockdowns and business destroying restrictions. 

Certainly, a much more menacing situation than COVID has ever been. But as a feel-good measure and, hopefully, a deterrent to the coronavirus, we are being constantly reminded to wear a face covering.  Doesn’t matter what kind or if it actually works; just put one on and hope for the best.  

Coincidentally, such head-scratching reasoning seems to be our government’s general philosophy in dealing with the airborne malady.   However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that wearing a cloth or paper facemask is going to protect you from the virus.  Or, as Supervisor Danny Smith (R-Dist. 3) remarked, “I don’t know that masks are going to make much of a difference, but we’ve been asked to do anything that could make a one percent difference. . . ”

Supervisor John Howard (R-Dist. 2) issued a similar statement, “Is it (masks) doing any good.  We say yes, we say no.  We don’t have an answer to that and I don’t think we ever will.”   

At least our BOS is honest about the masking issue.  It doesn’t seem to be a panacea in areas where masks are mandatory and the virus is increasing in intensity.