Quick Thoughts On Masks

What do you think about having to wear a face mask in public places? Do you think they are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 or other diseases?

Should your opinion matter? If you think so, why? Are you a doctor or other health care professional? An epidemiologist perhaps?

I ask these questions in light of a US court decision Monday that lifts the mask mandate on domestic flights in the USA. As I understand it, the ruling applies to all types of public transit – trains and local buses are included.

Most of us dislike governmenrt intrusion into our lives, and the pandemic measures of the past two years seem particularly distasteful. All too often they seem to have defied common sense. Politicians seemed unable to explain the science behind their decisions.

Apparently in this case the court agreed that a line was crossed. I found it interesting that the decision stated that the Centers for Disease Control had exceeded its authority by not seeking out public comment and not adequately explaining its decision.

That echoes what I have been saying all along, which does not make me feel any safer. After all, I am not an epidemiologist, so my opinion may not be well informed.

What does concern me is that the court (in the news reports anyway) didn’t address the science of the issue. We all dislike masks. Common snese tells us they probably have some effect on reducing the transmission of disease. But what do the experts say under oath?

If mask have a significant role in disease prevention, does public consultation or communication matter? However, if the science is ambiguous then the courts would seem to be acting responsibly in lifting the mask mandate. Which is it?

In 2020 we were told that measures were necessary to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. The vast majority accept the restrictions as being for the public good.

Now it is 2022 and we are in the sixth wave of the pandemic. Cases are at a record high, but the hospitals are not full. Chalk that up to vaccination and the fact the latest variant of the virus is highly contagious and not overly severe in most cases.

Many jurisdictions have lifted some or even all of their pandemic restrictions. Case counts are up, but the world has not fallen apart.

Which leaves me with the question, is it time to drop all the mandates? Is it time to allow people to take whatever precautions they wish, without some across the board rules? Would the mental health benefits of such a move outweigh the potential for COVID-19 spread?

You probably aren’t any more of an “expert” than I am – but I’d love your feedback.

2 comments

  1. There doesn’t seem to be universal agreement in the medical community about Covid best practices, which is probably as close to the ‘truth’ as we are going to get. There are too many variables, (not the least of which is the health and risk tolerance of a particular patient), to say what is the most effective response to a virus.

    This lack of agreement was evident in the messages that came from the Provincial Medical Officers for Alberta and BC, for example. I have family in both provinces and in order to visit each other, one group could be in compliance with the mandates in their province while the group in the other province wouldn’t be.

    I never agreed with mask mandates because my observations of poor masking construction and technique suggested that the majority of cloth masks were probably not very effective at stopping the virus. Maybe there was, though, some mental health value to wearing a placebo? Social distancing was perhaps more effective than the masks? I’ve watched kids who had to wear masks in school. As soon as they left the school, the masks came off. They were in close contact as they played and walked home, then quickly put their masks back on when they got near their homes…

    1. Good points. It has been suggested masks give a false sense of security – people wearing them are less likely to distance.

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