Since March 2020, the most significant debate surrounding Covid-19 mitigation has been to mask? or not to mask. This debate has become the red line of division for so many in the United States. Wearing a mask is no big deal, and it is not about you; it is about others. If you do not wear a mask, you are going to kill grandma. Wearing a mask shows, I am a good person.
Wait, is this true? Where is the proof that masks really do stop or even slow the spread of Covid-19? Is a person who does not wear a mask really a bad person?
Early in the Covid-19 pandemic days, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations were against mask-wearing by the general public. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, on January 30, 2020, stated, “CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks for the general public. … We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness and certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus” (Coronavirus Disease 2019, 2020).
However, in February 2020, the narrative began to change subtly. Dr. Messonnier, on the twelfth, stated that the CDC did not recommend mask wearing for the general public. However, persons suspected of being covid-positive or confirmed covid-positive should wear a mask (Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: CDC Update on Novel Coronavirus | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC, 2020). Though the stance on the general public’s mask-wearing remained steady that healthy people should not wear a mask, the narrative fell face-first down the slippery slope that has become the mask-mandate controversy.
April 1, 2020, was that fateful day of the mask-mandate narrative face plant at the feet of the American public. During an interview on CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated that widespread mask usage would likely (Fernandez, n.d.). During a White House press briefing, President Trump announced the CDC had recommended the voluntary use of homemade cloth masks (Achenbach et al., n.d.). By the end of 2020, thirty-seven states had statewide mask mandates, and only thirteen did not.
We are a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have treatments available and multiple vaccinations available. Logically, we should be returning to our pre-Covid-19 lives—however, Dr. Fauci recently came out with new mask-wearing recommendations. While on USA Today, he stated, “You know, it likely does. I mean, this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in. So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective” (TODAY, 2021). Given the scientific method does not include “it just makes common sense” as a qualifier for a proven hypothesis, where is the data that supports double masking?
In January 2021, the CDC conducted a series of simulated experiments using “a pliable elastomeric head form” (Brooks et al., 2021). The experimenters conducted the simulations with various types and combinations of cloth masks and medical masks. While the results showed a decrease in aerosolized droplets’ transmission, the limitations section of the article states the simulations’ results should not be generalized to all masks’ effectiveness or masks’ efficacy in real-world situations. The most notable limitation says that double masking may restrict breathing (Brooks, 2021).
Despite Dr. Fauci using “it just makes common sense” as a qualifier for double mask-wearing, the CDC’s simulations do not provide enough evidence to support double masking. On the contrary, it provides evidence against double masking.
Unfortunately, it looks like the only way out of this “pandemic” is through the American people banding together to say, “We the People have had enough,” and take off the masks.