A poll out last week found that 75% of Americans say they support a nationwide mask mandate to fight COVID-19. Why shouldn’t they, since the public has been told repeatedly by politicians and public health officials that these steps will slow the spread of the disease and save lives.
Yet new research provides clear evidence that – whatever the lab results of mask-wearing and disease spread might suggest – real-world mask mandates do little, if anything, to slow COVID-19.
The survey, conducted by STAT and the Harris Poll, found there is a partisan split on a mask mandate: 60% of Republicans favor a mandate, compared with more than 85% of Democrats.
Joe Biden promises that, once in the White House, he will order masks on federal property and interstate travel, while pressing state and local leaders to push for mandates. The oft-repeated claim is that this would save hundreds of thousands of lives.
But that is largely based on experimental data, which show that, when worn properly, masks are very effective in preventing the disease from being spread, and provide protection among wearers from getting it.
Too bad the real-world evidence – you know, the stuff scientists rely on to test their theories – doesn’t support any of this.
As we noted in this space back in November, the vast majority of new cases reported during the spike in coronavirus cases came in the 33 states that already had statewide mask mandates. We noted, too, that most of the remaining states had mandates in place covering their major urban areas.
Now there’s new evidence that shows our suspicions were dead on.
For example, a Danish study that included 6,000 participants undercut the “science” behind the mandates. A control group followed social distancing guidelines but didn’t wear masks, while another group wore high-quality surgical masks. It found no statistically significant difference between the two groups.
“The researchers concluded that mask-wearing is compatible with a range of outcomes — from a 46% reduction in infections to a 23% increase,” according to the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation.
The CDA also looked at county-level data in the U.S. on the rate of COVID’s spread and existing mask mandates.
It found that: “Of the 100 counties with the most confirmed cases during this period, 97 had either a county-level mask mandate, a state-level mandate, or both.” It went on to report that:
Of the 25 counties with the highest new case totals, all 25 had a mask mandate, and all but one implemented their directive prior to October; 21 of the counties implemented mandates prior to August.
The study also noted that Italy’s national mask mandate, in place since October 8, “did not arrest the growth in infection rates.”
Anyone who has looked around can understand why mask mandates aren’t effective. People don’t wear them properly, touch them repeatedly, don’t clean or dispose of used ones, etc.
By the way, research has also repeatedly found that wide-scale economic lockdowns are just as ineffective. Yet several states have reimposed lockdowns in one form or another as the disease started spreading again. And, as with mask mandates, lockdowns get strong public support.
That same STAT survey found that more than half say the government should once again shutter the economy by closing “non-essential businesses.”
So why the endless push for mandates and lockdowns, despite what the evidence shows? Could it be that Biden and company care more about exercising power and control over Americans than they do combating this disease?
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board