A couple of housekeeping notes. I will be traveling for about a week starting Thursday evening. I intend to keep posting, but I am going to the incredibly dangerous state of South Dakota to hike around the Black Hills, so who knows what evil may befall me there. I hear there may even be places where they don’t wear masks. In any event, have patience if there seems to be less posting than usual.
Second, I mentioned a video coming. My talk, believe it or not, got cancelled at the last minute due to what appear to be political objections as I was perceived as “biased” in my approach. I don’t care, but obviously I couldn’t make the video. I am learning how to narrate a Powerpoint, proving that you can teach an old, over-the-hill geezer new tricks. As soon as that is done, it will get posted as a video with the slides and my narration, probably on YouTube and Facebook.
People obviously ask about the mask mandate. I will put together a table or graph in the next few days, but I can give you the text version now. I am not going to go through all the explanation again of when it may have been expected to have an effect, according to the state or alternatively, in real life. If you go back to the prior posts you can see that. If you notice different case counts for a week, remember that occasionally there are cases added back many days. Just giving you the weeks leading up to July 25, the date the mandate went into effective, and thereafter. The Labor Day week is obviously an outlier, as you would expect. Don’t know if recent weeks are more testing (there is more testing), a Labor Day surge, seasonality or what. They do not appear to include many serious illnesses.
Cases are by week end date, using Saturday as the end of the week, and according to the current cases by the state’s table of date of specimen collection. If you look at that table every day, as I do, and you look at the cases reported on a specific day at the top of the situation report, you see that it takes at least a week for a specific date to be pretty complete. You also see that for example, the September 26 report won’t have any positive cases for the 26th and very few for the 25th, in fact 7. So it is taking a couple of days to get any positive results for a specific day. People most likely were infected as much as a few days before a positive test, but since the state doesn’t give us date of symptom or if people were asymptomatic at time of test, we can’t assess that.
Week ending July 18–4596
Week ending July 25–4737
Week ending August 1–4790
Week ending August 8–4440
Week ending August 15–4345
Week ending August 22–4778
Week ending August 29–5283
Week ending September 5–4527
Week ending September 12–3915 (Two days of Labor Day Weekend are in here, Monday was exceptionally low.)
Week ending September 19–6097
Just so you know, when all the cases are likely reported, this week, ending 9/26, is going to be a big week, at least 6000 cases again.
Look, here are some big picture observations.
1. I don’t think anything we do makes much difference to the virus. It is going to find a way to infect people. It is extreme hubris to believe otherwise. That definitely is the case with masks. And the Minnesota data are showing that–there simply is no impact.
2. The Incompetent Blowhard sold this as the single measure that would substantially reduce transmission. He did that repeatedly. He recently doubled down by saying the mask mandate would be the last thing to go. It has made and will make no difference. But don’t expect any recognition of that from him, instead expect lies like “it would have been worse without the mask mandate.” If he and the supposed science (which is non-existence) demonstrating that masks significantly slow community transmission, were correct, we would see the effect no matter what. We don’t.
3. I have done a better job than the state at explaining why the mandate wouldn’t make a lot of difference. If they were as smart at they think they are they would have used those explanations to temper expectations, and sold it as a potentially helpful supplemental measure. But that would have undercut why you have to force people to wear them instead of leaving it up to individual judgment. A primary reason that we didn’t see an effect is that, even if they worked, we had really high mask usage without the mandate, so adding it didn’t make much difference.
4. In specific individual encounter situations a mask may prevent transmission. At the macro level, across millions of encounters, they make no difference. All you have to do is look at the country or even state data to see that. They don’t stop transmission or even slow it meaningfully. Minnesota is becoming a prime example of that.
5. It is hard to do these analyses correctly when we aren’t given good testing data to be able to normalize or standardize cases for the effect of testing. And once again, the state does itself no favors by not providing this data. And we should get information about the cycle number and trends in results according to cycle number and in whether and when the person became symptomatic. Given the idiotic attempt to do excessive testing and retesting, the state is generating huge number of meaningless false and low positives which will be treated as “cases” and only make the mask mandate look even worse in future weeks.
6. The likely reason masks don’t work is obvious, aside from leakage, improper wearing, etc. What is a mask designed to do–trap droplets of all sizes, incoming and outgoing. Let us assume the mask is successful at that. What do you then have on and in the mask? Viruses, bacteria, etc. Do you think they all die there? No. Your mask becomes an extension of your upper respiratory tract, a lovely environment for the virus. So you are wearing what should more properly be referred to as a “Virus Collection Device”. Good luck with that and for God’s sake don’t touch that thing and get virus on your fingers. Just put it on and wear it forever, no touching to adjust it, take it on or off or anything. Someone should do a serious study of virus levels on masks. Just randomly approach people, sample the mask or exchange it, and test it.
So, I say again, wear a mask if you want to, but don’t assume they are protecting you or others.