Brase: Why Governor Walz Should Not Impose a Mask Mandate in Minnesota

No Evidence that Cloth Masks Protect Against Coronavirus

Twila Brase

It’s time to face the truth about face masks.

They don’t work.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, former interim director of the CDC and top infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, said this about the CDC’s recent support for masks: “Never before in my 45 year career have I seen such a far-reaching public recommendation issued by any governmental agency without a single source of data or information to support it.”

Indeed, he said “exhaustive studies” done after the 1918 Spanish flu found masks didn’t make a difference. And the only study on cloth masks found 97% of particles pass through the fabric. Osterholm says cloth masks may stop large droplets, but “it’s the little particles coming around the sides that are the real problem.”

Yet 14 Minnesota cities have mandated masks. Some require use in outdoor and indoor public spaces. Buy groceries, wear a mask. Go to school, wear a mask. Visit the beach, wear a mask.

The march to “mask up” Minnesotans is in full swing. If breathing through a cloth isn’t bad enough, violators face steep penalties. For example, Bemidji can impose a criminal misdemeanor, which includes a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail, or both. Although the mandates exempt certain individuals, including those who find a mask medically intolerable, most people will be forced to don a mask or be penalized.

This week, Governor Walz plans to make a decision on a mask mandate. Initially, he said if Republicans offered a bill to impose masks, he was willing to eliminate the 50% capacity limits on retail businesses. But now that the legislature has adjourned without a mandate, he may be ready to unilaterally issue an order.

Governor Walz was correct on July 14 when he said that it’s hard to make the case for masks while the number of ICU patients, hospitalizations and deaths decline. Thus, based on logic, he should abandon the idea. He should also abandon the idea based on science.

No Scientific Evidence

As the World Health Organization (WHO) states in their interim guidance on masks: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

The National Academy of Science wrote in April: “There are no studies of individuals wearing homemade fabric masks in the course of their typical activities” and added, “The current level of benefit, if any, is not possible to assess.”

Dr. Mike Osterholm says, the “highest frequency of mask-wearing” was in Hubei, China and it “didn’t make a difference.” He also emphasizes, “if you don’t have an N95 [mask] you’re not protected.” One of Dr. Osterholm’s concerns is that those at risk of severe COVID disease will assume the mask gives them a level of protection they don’t have and thereby put themselves in harm’s way.

This false sense of security could lead Americans to not follow key preventive measures that actually work, such as physical distancing and handwashing. This could increase their risk of getting and spreading the virus. And because masks also cause people to touch their faces more, individuals could be exposed to self- and cross-contamination. Mask-wearers can also experience difficulty breathing, skin lesions, chronic dermatitis and more, per the WHO.

To those who say “well, something is better than nothing,” think again. In this case, that isn’t true.

Facts, not Fear

Fear, it seems, is just as infectious as the virus itself. Fanned into a fearful frenzy by bureaucrats who said up to 2,000 Minnesotans would die of COVID-19 by May 31, Minnesotans have become locked down in their own minds. Despite deaths and hospitalizations on the decrease, and only 1,588 deaths so far (with about 78% of them in long-term care), individuals are afraid. Mask mandates, which are not based on sound data, only increase the fear.

“While we wait for this insanity to pass—or for the New House Republican Caucus and Free Minnesota Coalition lawsuit* to shut down a governor-gone-rogue—you can travel where fear has no grip.” Head to our border states and feel the sweet winds of freedom on every inch of your mask-free face.
*Updated: The name of an individual member of the lawsuit has been replaced by the names of the two groups of members that originally sued Governor Walz.  

Twila Brase, RN, PHN, is president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.