Editorial: Do face masks work?

Column By Mike Bibb

I’ve commented – on more than one occasion – I thought wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t really necessary.  Actually,  Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Center for Disease Controls – the nation’s anointed bumbling guru on viral infections – originally stated he believed masks shouldn’t be required.

He later changed his mind, which isn’t unusual; he’s frequently “revised” his opinions on the virus.  Leading many to question his qualifications and expertise.  At one time, Fauci remarked that wearing two or more masks would be even more beneficial.

He is also a devout believer in the six-foot “social distancing” mandate.  However, he’s recently commented that maybe the two-yard separation could be reduced to one yard.  Guess the little COVID germs are having difficulty traveling the full 72 inches.  Next, we’ll be required to carry a tape measure or stay a minimum of an arm’s distance from the closest human.  

For this phenomenally important advice, he’s being compensated more than $400,000 per year.  

So, the basic question remains, do face masks work?  More importantly, are they worth the trouble?

The simple answer seems to be:  Depends.  Depends upon the quality and cost of the coverings.  The cheap give-a-ways found at stores are nearly useless.  Not really suitable for slowing or stopping an airborne virus.  They may help a person feel secure, and comply with various face mask mandates, but their effectiveness is practically nil.

The more expensive doctor and hospital-grade masks provide a higher level of protection.  However, like any other mask, they’re not intended to be worn all day.  Masks can become polluted or saturated from overuse, regardless of the quality. 

“Follow the science” we are constantly reminded.  Not a bad idea if it wasn’t for the fact science seems to be constantly shape-shifting into whatever the latest CDC theories and recommendations are on dealing with the virus. 

Now comes another study from the CDC showing masks really haven’t been effective in lowering infection rates.  After a year of being indoctrinated with medical hoopla and media testimony of the importance of face masks to help prevent the spread of the contagion, we’re casually being informed the hype wasn’t as serious as we were told? 

In the meantime, manufactures and retail stores have been making and selling paper and cloth devices as lives depended upon them.  Sickness and possible death would surely follow if everyone didn’t “mask-up” to save society.  The grim reaper was knocking and masks could help hospitals lessen the caseload, blah, blah, blah.

It’s the perfect “masking” storm.  Except, the importance of masks has been – according to CDC – overly exaggerated.

Oops!  Millions of face masks may remain unsold once more people find out they’ve been deceived about their effectiveness. 

In an “early release” document of March 5, 2021, titled “Morbidly and Mortality Weekly Report, March 12, 2021, vol. 70, No. 10”, a CDC 10-month study involving nearly three-fourths of the nation’s counties, reported:  “During March 1 – December 21, 2020, state-issued mask mandates were applied in 2,313 (73.6%) of the 3,142 U.S. counties.  Masks mandates were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease (p = 0.02) in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 1-20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.1, 1.5, 1.7. and 1.8 percentage points 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days respectively, after implementation.  Mask mandates were associated with a 0.7 percentage point decrease (p + 0.03) in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 1-20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.0, 1.4. 1.6. and 1.9 percentage 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days respectively, after implementation (p < 0.01 for all).  Daily case and death growth rates before the implementation of mask mandates were not statistically different from the reference period.” 

There’s more, of course, detailing COVID-19s impact and mask-wearing requirements upon public restaurants and other places where people gather.  However, wading through all the government verbiage and arriving at a meaningful conclusion requires the persistent patience of someone similarly specialized in observing the peculiar characteristics of drying paint.  However, the bottom line of all this gobbledygook is the word “decrease” and the concluding sentence “Daily case and death growth rates before the implementation of mask mandates were not statistically different from the reference period.”

In other words, wearing masks decreased infections and death by a maximum of only 1.9%, and this figure was not reached until the 81–100-day period.  Other statistics were less.

As noted previously, the CDC has admitted only 6% of COVID fatalities were directly from the virus itself.  The remaining deaths were mostly from individual’s pre-existing health issues exacerbated by the virus. 

The stark realization of the situation is that society and the economy have been compelled to be placed into lockdown, forced to comply with a myriad of questionable rules and regulations, and, in some places, mandated to wear face coverings, whether they were beneficial or not.

Seems like we’ve gone about handling this entire COVID fiasco bass-ackwards from prior epidemics/pandemics.  We’ve restricted and quarantined perfectly healthy people from each other, while at the same time nearly demolishing the entire economy and adversely impacting our civil and constitutional rights.  To help compensate for the financial wreckage, government “stimulus checks” are periodically handed-out like candy during Halloween.  This would be okay if it wasn’t for the fact trillions of dollars are intentionally being disbursed to non-COVID-related projects.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: A Turkey Trot participant wears a mask while running a 5K.

In a recent national television broadcast (Mar. 11, 2021), President Joe Biden remarked he thought we might be able to enjoy a “backyard barbecue with a small circle of friends by July 4” – four months away.  Wow, if we’re obedient to all the rules, and COVID doesn’t suddenly metastasize into another global calamity, we may be allowed by the government to have a Winnie and marshmallow roast with a few close virus-free friends.  

Who knew in 1776 a historical declaration to sever ourselves from the yoke of Great Britain would eventually lead to a citizen’s Constitutional right to flip burgers and munch a few potato chips in 2021?  In his own backyard!

Guess Joe didn’t get the memo or forgot many states have already opened up, and more will surely follow before July 4.  Folks have been inviting friends over and cooking-out long before Joe ever thought about permitting it.

Stay tuned.  I’m sure the CDC will issue additional guidelines to compensate for an increasing number of states who have grown tired of complying with dictatorial governor’s demands, languishing in limbo, working-from-home, “flattening-the-curve,” waiting for vaccines, and watching society deteriorate while government experts continue to juggle facts and figures in order to justify their presumed importance 

Now, if only these prima donnas could put their brains together and figure out how to remove the barricades, razor wire, and troops surrounding The Capitol – facetiously dubbed “Fort Pelosi” – while at the same time slowing or stopping the rush of illegal immigrants at our southern border, then they may actually have earned their pay.

Unfortunately, that’s probably expecting too much.  Instead, maybe they’ll just hand every border-crosser a “stimulus check”, driver’s license, and Democrat Party voter registration form as they pass through Arizona on their way to Chicago, Detroit, and other various communities in the United States.