Readers know that I have been a vocal proponent of (effective) face masks and called for them early and loudly. Indeed I urged readers to buy masks while they could be had way back in January, seeing COVID-19 for what it was well before the clueless experts caught on.
We know now objectively that while COVID-19 can be a killer, it is not much more than a blip versus the overall death rate* and the overreaction is killing people, probably far more than COVID-19 will ever kill.
But masks are not for everyone. And at this point, except for the good ideas of high-risk people protecting themselves with properly fitted N95/N100 masks and certain facilities and similar measures, I deem masks dubious at best—hugely leaky, worn wrong and largely now counter-productive. The right thing is to aim for for high rates infection of low-risk people ASAP and to make sure those who want or need to protect themselves have a supply of N95/N100 masks.
* Graph the latest alleged COVID-19 deaths versus the baseline death rate, and see for yourself.
Gary J writes:
Masks are not innocuous. I am a septuagenarian with diminished lung capacity.
N100 mask gave me headaches and breathlessness. Had to wear mask (surgical) at banker meeting for half an hour. Afterwards barely made it to car before passing out. Woke up to find I had left car door.
Also I have a congenital anomaly that results in aspirating certain food particles.
Moist environment caused by mask aggravates the effects of that condition.
Yet I have people yelling at me for not wearing a mask. (At Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California they had employees driving golf carts around using megaphones telling people to keep masks on even when isolated.)
WIND: surgical masks are a BAD JOKE in terms of protecting an elderly person from infection. But masks as commonly used today are about protecting others from an infected person.
Gary J should see if he can find a 3M valved N95 or N100 mask (the valve blocks inhalation but allows exhalation). These should allow plenty of airflow versus unvalved masks. But even a valved mask can cause issues from some people with impaired lung function.
We have gone far beyond the point of social acceptance of masks to mass conformity, which brings with it all the ugly behaviors of self-righteous enforcers. Permission not needed to harrass and even attack the non-conformers.
Social conformity has long been an organizing principle of human society. It is useful, but also vicious. We are now seeing the vicious side emerge. You may justifiably consider yourself a patriot for wearing a mask to protect others, but the second you start harassing others in outdoor spaces, you have crossed the line to being an asshole or worse.
Do I wear a mask? Sure, out of respect to others (if only to allay their fears), and in a more practical sense: to avoid assholes harassing me. But since I am all but certain I already had and got over COVID-19, I consider it a useless nuisance for me—it’s all about social conformity now.