Tourists wear protective masks as they gather at the Vatican in Rome to hear the Pope’s weekly address. (Photo: Andreas Solaro / AFP via Getty Images)

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Covid-19 is a virus that largely spreads through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets, which can linger in the air after a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Experts have established that the disease can also be spread by an individual touching a contaminated surface and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

On April 6, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that masks would be ineffective at preventing the spread of the disease and would likely give the public a false sense of security, thus weakening social distancing measures. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams previously stated that Americans should stop buying masks, claiming that “folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus.”

However, as the rate of fatalities associated with Covid-19 increased dramatically in April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends the use of masks to mitigate the spread of the virus, with many states now requiring the use of face masks when in public.

President Trump and Vice President Pence have both declined to wear masks in public on multiple occasions. After the CDC officially recommended wearing masks in public, President Trump stated: “I don’t think that I’m going to be doing it.” The President briefly wore a mask while visiting the Honeywell plant in Arizona, but removed it before any photos were taken.

MEDIA CONTRIBUTION

If 80% of Americans Wore Masks, COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet, New Study Says – Vanity Fair – 5/9/2020
If you’re wondering whether to wear or not to wear, consider this. The day before yesterday, 21 people died of COVID-19 in Japan. In the United States, 2,129 died. Comparing overall death rates for the two countries offers an even starker point of comparison with total U.S. deaths now at a staggering 76,032 and Japan’s fatalities at 577. Japan’s population is about 38% of the U.S., but even adjusting for population, the Japanese death rate is a mere 2% of America’s.

Model: Universal mask-wearing would do more to reduce infection than indefinite lockdowns would – HotAir – 5/9/2020
But refusing to take basic minimal precautions against infection is exactly the sort of thing that makes lockdown supporters wary of opening back up. If we can’t have ubiquitous testing, and we can’t have a bureaucracy to conduct contact tracing, the least we can do to raise the comfort level of Americans who are reluctant to risk their health by crowding into retail spaces is wear masks to protect each other.

Stop Forcing People to Wear Masks Over COVID-19 Fears – Foundation for Economic Education – 5/6/2020
There’s a famous scene in the movie Fight Club where Tyler Durden is on an airplane thumbing through one of those safety manuals in emergency exit rows. “An exit door procedure at 30,000 feet,” says Durden (Brad Pitt). “The illusion of safety.” It’s a memorable scene because it touches on the strange things humans do to make ourselves feel secure in frightening situations. Which brings me to America’s latest fad: wearing masks in public.

‘Masks increase virus risk’: Ohio Republican misleadingly cites surgeon general to discourage face coverings – Raw Story – 5/9/2020
“Wearing one can “actually increase your risk” of getting the disease, says American Anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service,” Vitale posted. “There was a study in 2015 looking at medical students. And medical students wearing surgical masks touch their faces on average 23 times. We know a major way that you can get respiratory diseases like coronavirus is by touching a surface and then touching your face.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Senator Scott Wiener on Twitter, 5/9/20: Models show that if 80% of people wear masks that are 60% effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 of less than 1. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease.” Universal mask wearing is so crucial to defeat #COVID19.

Antoine Wilson on Twitter, 5/9/20: moved to do it. It’s not 100% effective, sure, but it goes a long way toward hampering the fire’s spread. With apologies to Brahms (and the gospel of Peter): All flesh is as grass…so wear a mask, you dumb ***********. 

Chris Vanderveen on Twitter, 5/9/20: @kwsargent @mboothdenver @johningold The mixed messaging of the mask issue in stages. First they weren’t that effective. So don’t bother. Then they’re somewhat effective. So consider. Now it’s, we all need to do it when outside. I think this is a good story for is to continue to pursue

Thom Hartmann on Twitter, 5/9/20: Cloth masks are not so effective at protecting the person who wears the mask; we wear them to protect the people around us because they reduce our ability to spread the virus. It’s also a sign of respect. Only a selfish, arrogant *ss would not wear a mask in such circumstances.

John Gruber on Twitter, 5/9/20: @jimmycallin I’m not saying that mask-wearing has been *proven* to be effective against COVID-19, but all of the evidence to date suggests that it is. It’s really quite compelling.

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