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Graphs show no helpful effect from mask orders

Yinon Weiss at the Federalist looks into the “political tool and talisman” of forced mask-wearing. His article is far-ranging and well worth the full read. Here I highlight two sections.

In one, he discusses the science of masks (which I have also discussed — see here, here, here, and here — and will be discussing more in the future):

These same politicians and health officials are so desperate to make people believe in masks that they doctor charts to make their case, even when their own data actually undermines them. So what is the actual science behind masks? Let’s begin by reviewing the leading scientific studies.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University summarized six international studies which “showed that masks alone have no significant effect in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.” Oxford went on to say that “that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.” They prophetically warned that this has “left the field wide open for the play of opinions, radical views and political influence.”

A study of health-care workers in more than 1,600 hospitals showed that cloth masks only filtered out 3 percent of particles. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine stated, “[W]earing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection” and that “[T]he desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

There are many other credible studies showing lack of mask efficacy, such as studies published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Cambridge University Press, Oxford Clinical Infectious Diseases, and Influenza Journal, just to name a few.

Studies do show masks can help in the case of direct respiratory droplets, which would matter if somebody is coughing, breathing, or sneezing directly on your face. That happens normally in a tight and highly confined space.

But the plentiful evidence we have indicates masks would not meaningfully help with aerosol transmission, where two people are just in the same area, or even the same room. This is because the two people end up breathing the same air, with or without a mask, as visually demonstrated in this video.

Then he looks at the “real-world situation,” looking at graphs of area COVID-19 cases and deaths in the context of mask orders. Here are just a few:


No discernible effect in NC, either

Following is where North Carolina is with cases and the mask order. I’ve not only indicated when Gov. Cooper’s mask order was announced, but also the many times he extended it:

Freer societies are witnessing better results than that.

Cooper has done precious little by way of reopening the state since announcing the mask order on June 24. No matter what name he calls it, he has still not even allowed the state to enter the full Phase 2 he had originally outlined.

As I pointed out at the time, not reopening the state while ordering masks subverts the very rationale for the mask order. Cooper’s actions also indicate he regards them as political theater.

Since June the dominant feature of Cooper’s orders to “fight” COVID-19 continues to be the mask order. He has made only cosmetic changes to his orders for shutdowns and partial-to-mostly shutdowns.

Over four months ago I charted Cooper’s decision matrix on the masks. As you can see, even though he has had several opportunities to revisit it, he’s still kept us in “Submit and Get Nothing”:

Opening the state and trusting people to take care of themselves is still the best way.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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