The Coronavirus Mask Debate

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How your face covering is ineffective against Covid-19

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You can view this Coronavirus mask debate premise a few ways. If you take the negative or “Con” side, you believe that Covid-19 is a hoax; or nothing will work against it, except maybe a vaccine. The latter would be true if you were not an anti vaccine protester. You can also take the position that mask usage has been politicised. That is to say that “Masks don’t work”. But if you take the affirmative or “Pro” side, you can argue that face coverings or masks are only as effective as how they are being worn. Thus, Resolved! We crafted the premise in such a way that you can argue either the Con or Pro.

Coronavirus Mask Debate: We Affirm

Dr Anthony Fauci was an anti-masker until the summer of 2020, REGARDLESS of what he told MSNBC on 17th September 2020. He started to change his tune about masks in early April, after the CDC guidelines changed. But he’s on record advising Americans not to wear masks, which he doesn’t regret saying.

During an interview with Mark Zuckerberg in July, he said that “masks are very important“. Fauci has always purported himself as a person of science. So it was interesting to see his change of attitude about face coverings. He attributed the change to “our insistence in wearing masks“. In this instance, was he looking at data, social habits or both?

During the interview Dr. Fauci did not provide any source material. This is important to note, because we don’t know where he is acquiring this “new data”. The source material can help the public and direct them to the relevant data that has been peer reviewed. Otherwise, it is conjecture. During a pandemic, what the public doesn’t need are ‘personal’ opinions, but actual data. Because for some, it could be a life and death struggle. This is especially true, if you have a preexisting medical condition like heart disease or obesity.

Kristin Urquiza spoke at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Her father Mark Anthony Urquiza died of Covid-19. He contracted the virus at a karaoke bar. Urquiza said that his ‘only’ preexisting condition was ‘trusting’ Donald Trump. It is unfortunate Urquiza Sr had to lose his life but you cannot blame someone else for your poor lifestyle choices. That is called taking responsibility. Urquiza Sr was obese. Could he have survived with better Covid-19 information? Maybe. But more probable his obesity was a contributing factor to his death.

Coronavirus Mask Debate: Lead by Example

The Trump administration is not without blame. But don’t look to the Biden administration for any relief either. Biden signed at least 26 executive orders in January, including mandating the wearing of masks. But does Biden even know how to wear a mask? For that matter does Dr. Fauci? How about the ‘arbitrary’ doctor being pushed by some “anti-maskers” to prove the premise that “Masks don’t work”? After the ‘arbitrary’ doctor made the point that masks didn’t work, he touched his mask with his bare hand.

If you are going to mandate the wearing of masks to mitigate the spread, then be the example. One common sense through line since January was “don’t touch your face”. Even the ‘arbitrary’ doctor could agree that the access points for the Coronavirus is the mouth, nose and eyes. Then why is Biden constantly touching his mask?

During the interview with Mark Zuckerberg, Dr. Fauci claimed he doesn’t take off his mask when there are other people. Yet, the photo of him at the baseball game last July clearly showed he did. He lowered the mask to his chin. He said he was dehydrated and was drinking water. But why was he holding up his phone? Did he even sanitise his hands?

Dr. Fauci calling these criticisms “mischievous” is disingenuous. Whilst photos can be a ‘moment in time’, that may not represent the whole picture, Dr. Fauci’s simplistic explanation and dismissal of valid criticisms didn’t help him. There are plenty of other videos and photos showing Dr. Fauci touching his mask as well. How will he explain those? This was when we got off the Dr. Fauci “bandwagon”.

Coronavirus Mask Debate: How to Assess Risk

This is the issue with people complaining that masks don’t work. It’s because they don’t know how to wear one. People who complain that masks don’t work probably don’t move their car during a wind storm either. Then they wonder why the tree fell on top of their car. Some people just don’t know how to assess risk, even when they have the information. What struck us about the Kristin Urquiza was her ‘racial’ claim to “communities of colour”. It’s one thing to have the knowledge but not acting upon it can have a negative impact and even death.

Coronavirus Mask Debate: How to build Barriers

“Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east”.

GANDALF THE WHITE

Gandalf counsels Aragorn in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, just before the battle of Helm’s Deep.

Here, Gandalf is literally saying to hold them off until I come with reinforcement. You don’t have to be a military tactician to battle Coronavirus. You only need to create barriers until you get the “All clear” sign. Wearing a mask is one way to create that barrier. But as with any successful campaign, you can’t just rely on one strategy. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and social distancing at 6 feet or 2 meters also increases the odds. To this we add, wear protective eye wear like glasses or even sunglasses.

Masking in public should be a conscious lifestyle choice adopted for the situation. When you and others mask up in public, it creates a double barrier, especially if you or they are asymptomatic. However, no strategy is foolproof. To think otherwise is to be naive. It’s about probabilities. There is no outcome in life that has a 100% guarantee. It is dangerous to speak in absolute terms. Such statements may lead to disappointment and regrets if they don’t come true. If we are talking probabilities, the percentage (%) of transmission decreases with each barrier you deploy. Upon our return from hiatus, on 1st April 2020, we wrote about this finding. We also advocated wearing mask and gloves. Unlike Dr. Fauci, we have been consistent on the efficacy of masks as a barrier.

Be informed, Flexible and “Consistent”

In conclusion, Dr. Fauci is correct that we do our best with the information we are given. We also need to be flexible enough to change. Where Dr. Fauci fails is in his inconsistency. When you change direction, or argue a new premise, including taking an opposing viewpoint, be consistent. In the beginning we said he was an “anti-masker” because he didn’t believe in wearing one. Now he tells people to wear one but he demonstrates still, he doesn’t know how to wear one or doesn’t care about his new premise that “Masks are very important“. There are evidence to suggest that he hasn’t fully adopted this premise.

The Lancet, 16th April 2020:

“there is mechanistic plausibility for the potential effectiveness of this measure”, and it recommended that in a severe influenza pandemic use of masks in public should be considered.15

 Dismissing a low-cost intervention such as mass masking as ineffective because there is no evidence of effectiveness in clinical trials is in our view potentially harmful.

The Lancet
Fauci didn’t think people knew how to wear masks properly. Yes! He was correct! Full White House stream
WHAT DID HE SAY? – President Joe Biden asked by reporters on passing COVID relief before departing for a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: “I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But, the COVID relief has to pass” he replied. Source: Twitter ABC News @ABC ~ Lasse Burholt 30-Jan-21
WHAT DID HE SAY? – Sky News host Paul Murray says it is little wonder there is confusion about the efficacy of face masks in America when the top heath expert Dr Anthony Fauci keeps changing his stance as last week he was advocating for double masking. “In America there were people talking about wearing not one but two masks to take on coronavirus … back then all in sundry were telling you this was the thing to do,” he said. Last week, there were reports Dr Fauci was considering making two masks a Centre for Disease Control requirement but this week he was doubting the efficacy of double masking. “The man who must be obeyed says this, that’s the exactly opposite thing he said last week about double bagging.”
~ Sky News 03-Feb-21
WHAT DID HE SAY? – “I have been crystal clear for a long time in what I’ve been saying,” says Dr. Fauci. “Masks are important. They’re effective. … End of story. It’s true. No question about that.” ~ MSNBC 17-Sep-20
WHAT DID HE SAY? – In an interview with Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook, Dr. Anthony Fauci explains why the guidance on wearing face masks changed and that they have no negative effect on oxygen levels. ~ NBC News 17-July-20. Full podcast (16-July-20)