We’re supposed to follow “evidence-based medicine” these days, but there is no firm evidence to support the masking and “social distancing” mandates being imposed throughout the land. CDC chief Robert Redfield asserts his opinion that the U.S. could get the coronavirus under control in 4 to 6 weeks if everyone wore a mask. He relies largely on a study of masking health care workers and patients in a Massachusetts health system.
We have had some large experiments underway. In the U.S. we have recently had thousands of protesters crowded together, chanting and shouting. We also have large homeless camps. No masks, no distancing, no handwashing, and no constant sanitizing of anything a human might have touched. Are the surges of positive tests coming from there?
Does the absence of reports mean that it’s safe to protest, at least for the correct cause, or to live on the streets? Maybe so, if you’re outdoors. (Then why should anyone wear a mask outdoors?) Maybe we just don’t know because contact tracers don’t ask.
Had persons who are testing positive been in Mexico, where cases are surging? (In Chula Vista, Calif., the majority of COVID-positive emergency-room patients had been in Mexico.) Were the “cases” confined to a nursing home, unable to go anywhere or even to have visitors? Were they alone except when breathing the air in a supermarket where an unmasked person might have been? We don’t know.
There is international experience, notably in Sweden. Children went to school, mask-free, behaving like normal children. There were no lockdowns. There were fewer deaths on a per-capita basis than in locked-down, economically devastated New York (see figure below). As observed on Twitter, if New York had been a drug and Sweden a placebo, the trial would have been stopped in April for ethical reasons.
For a summary of the evidence, see Mask Facts, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, January 2020, and an extensive review by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIPRAP).