Some Minnesotans who listen to a certain sports talk show host will get the reference in the title, but I have to tell you, I really am tired of talking about masks. Every time I write about them, including the recent post on the Danish mask study, I get a lot of comments, most of which I don’t bother to publish because they basically are pointing out what I already know, I am an idiot. It just shows how fetishized, how totemic, masks have become, what a symbol of I either do or don’t care about other people, what a reflection of the authoritarian, do what government says instincts of a large segment of our population. Has nothing to do with data or science, obviously. And seriously, the only reason I keep responding is because people really should be aware that they are not likely to substantially prevent transmission, either from you or to you, so be smart and take other measures if you are concerned. I am living as a normal a life as I can, and I think I avoid infection mostly because my one rule is to avoid crowds of people I don’t know. Restaurants and bars and stores are fine by me if they aren’t crowded. If I see a group of people I don’t know I avoid being in their presence for any length of time. And I depend on the people I know to be responsible and tell me if they think they might be infected, and I would certainly do the same for them.
Here is the big picture on this topic. Don’t read this blog if you think it supports the idea that CV-19 is a hoax or not a serious public health issue. This is a serious problem, but it deserves a serious response, driven by actual science and data and consideration of all the effects of both the epidemic itself and our potential responses to that epidemic. I don’t care if people wear a mask or not. If it were up to me I definitely wouldn’t mandate use, because I don’t believe they make a difference, and we do live in a free country, supposedly. I wear a mask whenever required to, largely because I never want to put some poor retail clerk or waitress in the position of having to deal with a non-compliant person. But I don’t delude myself that it will keep me from getting or passing an infection, especially as used by the general public. One of goals here is to give people access to science and data, not just my summaries or analyses, but the source, so you can go look for yourself and make your own interpretations. But try to do so with an open, although skeptical mind, try to synthesize all that you read. If you don’t like my summary of the Danish mask study, don’t tell me I’m an idiot or I miss the point because it was only dealing with the effect on the wearer of the mask, when I very specifically addressed the issues people had already brought up about the study. If you don’t want to believe that the study says what it says, then just admit that you are determined to believe, and it is a belief, that masks make a big difference, despite the lack of any rigorous evidence to that effect and despite that fact that in locations with mask mandates and high mask-wearing we see the same case surges. Be intellectually consistent and just say, I am going to believe this no matter what.
And to add a little more fuel to the fire, here is the Cochrane update on evidence relating to physical interventions, i.e. masks, to prevent spread of respiratory viruses, including CV-19. The Cochrane Institute is regarded as one of, if not the, leading groups for compiling evidence on health and medical interventions and treatments. Uhhh, just like everyone else, no conclusive evidence of benefit of masks. Could exist, but not shown yet. (Cochrane Review)