Commentary: The ‘face-mask con’ continues

Mistakes of this magnitude are hard to admit; the consequences too severe. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is permeated with inaccuracies. Consider Minnesota. On April 10, Minnesota’s health department predicted 22,000 people would die. As of October 27, 2,368 people have died, with 70 percent in long-term care. Most of the deceased (94 percent) died with significant underlying health conditions. Yet, the lockdown continues.

Mistakes of this magnitude are hard to admit; the consequences too severe.

Epidemiologist Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis warns of a “domino effect” that happens when leaders start “making decisions that may be extreme. There’s a sense that if you don’t follow-up with even more stringent decisions and even more severe decisions, you may be claimed to be negligent.”

Thus, on July 22, four months after the lockdown began and with deaths in decline, Gov. Tim Walz ordered Minnesotans to “mask up.” His administration initiated the “Face-Mask Con,” which he has refused to relinquish despite no evidence that masks save lives. In fact, a CDC report found 70.6% of people who caught COVID “always” wore a mask.

In September, CDC Director Robert Redfield even claimed the mask is better than a vaccine. Oddly enough, we’ve never heard about the greatness of masks until now—because masks are neither great nor effective. In February, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, told Americans not to buy masks because “the leakage around that doesn’t really do much to protect you.”

The disclaimer written on my cloth face mask and my 3M construction mask packaging warns me (Nicole) that they offer no protection against COVID-19 or any other airborne particles. So, let’s look at the actual science on face masks, which government officials are ignoring:

A 2015 Australian and Vietnamese study of cloth, medical and N95 face masks and viruses found: “Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

In May 2020, a CDC study found: “Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

Also in May 2020, five experts wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine, “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection . . . In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

In June 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, “At present, there is no direct evidence . . . on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

A July 2020 South Korean study concluded that “both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.”

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, worried about giving people a false sense of security, a concern also expressed by WHO, says, “there is no scientific basis for recommending general use or non-medical face masks in the general population.”

The science is clear. Other than N95 respirators, masks are not effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission whether worn as source control (to protect others) or as personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gaiters, which aren’t any better than cloth masks, and may be worse.

In March, Dr. Fauci, the Surgeon General, and the Secretary of HHS agreed: masks are not effective. They now say this was only to prevent a run on PPE. Right. Nothing stopped them from recommending cloth masks or scarves as coverings. Nothing except the science.

The now ubiquitous face mask is a constant visual reminder of how many people believe in the government’s current claims, or are unwilling to bear the penalties of non-compliance. Masks also serve to silently tell you what to believe and how to comply.

Although the government’s predictions have been grossly inaccurate, the greater tragedy is our willingness to excuse these continued failures, despite the disasters they’ve created for individuals, businesses and the economy. Too many Americans keep trusting what health officials say today — and ignoring what they said yesterday.

To save face, bureaucrats believe they must “never let go of the con.” But as citizens, we must be willing to acknowledge that we’ve been conned. Until then, we are helping to keep the “con” going.

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Nicole Nejezchleba is an attorney practicing in Minnesota. Her comments are hers alone.

Twila Brase, RN, PHN, is president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a national health freedom organization in Minnesota, which has initiated a series of COVID-19 Update Facebook videos and a “Face Freedom” campaign, including #FaceFreedomFriday on social media and a web page specific to state face-mask mandates: FaceFreedom.org.