Coronavirus

What's Up With All the Contradictory Advice About COVID-19 and Face Masks?

The combination of limited evidence and conflicting priorities has resulted in whipsawing messages from experts.

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Even if you are not worried that police might arrest you for wearing a face mask in public to protect against COVID-19 (which seems to be illegal in some states), you may wonder whether that precaution makes sense. On that point, public health officials and infectious disease specialists have given conflicting, confusing, and sometimes transparently disingenuous advice. While some of the contradictions can be explained by honest differences of opinion, much of the bewildering guidance conflates the question of whether face masks work with the question of whether they should be reserved for high-risk, high-priority users in light of current shortages.

"Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS!" Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted on February 29. "They are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

As critics pointed out, it was not immediately obvious why the same masks that protect health care workers from infection suddenly become ineffective when worn by an ordinary grocery shopper or pedestrian. To back up his counterintuitive claim, Adams linked to advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"If you are sick," the CDC says, "you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider's office." But "if you are NOT sick," it adds, "you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers."

The CDC's position that well people "do not need" face masks given the "short supply" is notably different from Adams' assertion that face masks "are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching [COVID-19]." Furthermore, it ignores the possibility that people may be infected by the virus without realizing it, especially since the incubation period can be nearly two weeks and symptoms typically range from mild to nonexistent.

What does research actually show about the effectiveness of face masks in curtailing the transmission of coronaviruses? The evidence, while limited, does not support Adams' claim that face masks have been proven "ineffective" when used by the general public during an epidemic.

"There is some evidence to support the wearing of masks or respirators during illness to protect others, and public health emphasis on mask wearing during illness may help to reduce influenza virus transmission," according to a 2010 systematic review in the journal Epidemiology and Infection. "There are fewer data to support the use of masks or respirators to prevent becoming infected….Our review highlights the limited evidence base supporting the efficacy or effectiveness of face masks to reduce influenza virus transmission."

Notably, there was at that point not much evidence to support mask use even in clinical settings, although that is standard practice. "Few studies have been conducted in healthcare settings, and there is limited evidence to support the effectiveness of either surgical masks or N95 respirators to protect healthcare personnel," the authors noted.

Another systematic review published the following year looked at studies of various "physical interruptions" aimed at reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses. "Overall masks were the best performing intervention across populations, settings and threats," the authors reported. "More expensive and uncomfortable (especially if worn for long periods) than simple surgical masks, N95 respirators may be useful in very high‐risk situations but additional studies are required to define these situations….We found limited evidence of the superior effectiveness of devices such as the N95 respirator over simple surgical masks."

Research since then has begun to fill the gaps in the evidence. A randomized trial involving 84 homes in Berlin where someone had the flu, for example, found that "household transmission of influenza can be reduced" by face masks. The researchers, who published their results in BMC Infectious Diseases in 2012, reported that secondary infection was substantially less common in households where residents used face masks, practiced "intensified hand hygiene," or did both. In the mask-only group, the risk was reduced by 70 percent.

An experiment described in the Journal of Hospital Infection exposed a "dummy test head" fitted with various kinds of surgical masks to live influenza virus. "The data indicate that a surgical mask will reduce exposure to aerosolised infectious influenza virus," the researchers reported in 2013. "Reductions ranged from 1.1- to 55-fold (average 6-fold), depending on the design of the mask."

Even homemade masks offer some protection, a study published the same year found. Surgical masks and homemade masks both "significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask," the researchers reported in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. "Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection."

A 2018 study published in the journal Risk Analysis looked specifically at mask wearing by the general public, using a mathematical model of an influenza outbreak in a "closed community" with 1,000 "susceptible" people and one infected person initially. Based on those assumptions, the researchers projected the ultimate prevalence of infection for different levels of compliance and different kinds of masks.

"For the most effective adult barriers—the fit‐tested respirator and high‐filtration mask—a 20% compliance rate cuts the infection prevalence roughly in half and delays the peak of the epidemic to around day 25 [as opposed to day 15 without masks]," the authors reported. "For 50% compliance, all forms of adult protection except the adult low filtration reduce the prevalence to less than about 5%. At 80% compliance, the infection prevalence is negligible for all barriers except the adult low filtration, where the maximum is roughly 5%."

A randomized trial of face masks involving about 7,700 hajj participants in Mecca had less promising results. At the end of the study, which was reported in The Lancet last year, the subjects who received masks—most of whom used them intermittently or not at all—were just as likely to have viral respiratory infections as those who did not.

The combination of limited evidence and conflicting priorities has resulted in whipsawing messages from experts. "Can wearing a face mask protect you from the new coronavirus?" asked the headline over a Live Science article published in February. "No," the subhead answered, "a regular surgical mask will not help you steer clear of the virus."

The author of the article, Laura Geggel, cited William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. Geggel reported that an N95 respirator, unlike a surgical mask, would work against COVID-19—notwithstanding the evidence that surgical masks can prevent virus transmission, although perhaps not as well. But Geggel said Schaffner recommended against trying to find an N95 mask, partly because "it's challenging to put on these masks and wear them for long periods of time" but also because a shortage could endanger health care workers "if too many people unnecessarily stockpile respirators."

In another Live Science article a few weeks later, Geggel conceded that "experts disagree" about the merits of face masks. That article cited Otto Yang, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who said (in Geggel's paraphrase) "it's a smart idea to don a face mask or wrap a clean scarf around your nose and mouth if you're going into a crowded place during the COVID-19 outbreak." Geggel noted that Yang's advice "goes against recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" as well as "the advice of other infectious disease doctors."

Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, is also promoting general mask wearing. "Face masks will be most effective at slowing the spread of [COVID-19] if they are widely used, because they may help prevent people who are asymptomatically infected from transmitting the disease unknowingly," he writes in an American Enterprise Institute paper published this week. "Face masks are used widely by members of the public in some countries that have successfully managed their outbreaks, including South Korea and Hong Kong."

Elaine Shuo Feng of the Oxford Vaccine Group and four other infectious disease specialists recently reviewed official recommendations regarding face masks as a defense against COVID-19 and found that advice varies substantially from one country to another. "Despite the consistency in the recommendation that symptomatic individuals and those in health-care settings should use face masks, discrepancies were observed in the general public and community settings," they write in a March 20 Lancet commentary. Although "one important reason to discourage widespread use of face masks is to preserve limited supplies for professional use in health-care settings," they note, "universal face mask use in the community has also been discouraged with the argument that face masks provide no effective protection against coronavirus infection."

On the latter point, Feng et al. highlight "the essential distinction between absence of evidence and evidence of absence." Although "evidence that face masks can provide effective protection against respiratory infections in the community is scarce," they say, "face masks are widely used by medical workers as part of droplet precautions when caring for patients with respiratory infections." Hence "it would be reasonable to suggest vulnerable individuals avoid crowded areas and use surgical face masks rationally when exposed to high-risk areas." And since "evidence suggests COVID-19 could be transmitted before symptom onset, community transmission might be reduced if everyone, including people who have been infected but are asymptomatic and contagious, wear[s] face masks."

Feng et al. urge governments to "make rational recommendations on appropriate face mask use to complement their recommendations on other preventive measures, such as hand hygiene." They conclude that "universal use of face masks could be considered if supplies permit."

This week, CDC Director Robert Redfield told NPR his agency is "critically looking at" the issue of who should use face masks. "Particularly with the new data [indicating] that there's significant asymptomatic transmission," he said, "this is being critically re-reviewed to see if there's potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected." Hoover Institution economist Russell Roberts translated Redfield for us: "We misled you. Wear a mask."

NEXT: U.S. Sex Workers and 'Prurient' Businesses Excluded From COVID-19 Disaster Loans

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  1. KungFlu is a joke disease and the hysteria needs to stop.

    AGE DEATH RATE (all cases)
    80+ years old 14.8%
    70-79 years old 8.0%
    60-69 years old 3.6%
    50-59 years old 1.3%
    40-49 years old 0.4%
    30-39 years old 0.2%
    20-29 years old 0.2%
    10-19 years old 0.2%
    0-9 years old no fatalities

    1. Your numbers seem less credible when you begin your comment with a racist remark like “Kungflu”. And when i say less credible, I mean you!

      1. poor unreason sock troll who always has no credibility.

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      2. His numbers are easily verifiable if you’re not a dumbass.

        1. Really, they are? Wow, you really are a douchebag.

          1. For knowing basic facts? Lol.

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      3. How is the remark “KungFlu” racist? At worst loveconstitution1789 is guilty of using a pun. The word that KungFlu is referring to, Kung Fu, is not a pejorative but refers to China, were the fucking virus came from. Had he referred to the virus as “Chink Flu” or “Slant-Eyed Flu” you’re claim would be right. We’re at a point with virtue signaling assholes (like you) that a mere pop culture reference is considered racist. What a stupid time to be alive.

    2. I’m guessing most of the people who died from CV would have died anyways the next time they caught a cold or their favorite team lost.

      1. Actually, deaths induced by sports team losses are way down

        1. Hes using the CFR dumbfuck.

    3. rate of neuron-wilting idiotic statements that boggle the mind by:

      a bucket of door knobs 0.0002%
      discarded bubble wrap 0.005%
      a sheep with CTE 0.3%
      that donkey in Homer’s head 10%
      Gary Busey’s cockatiel 50%
      Gwyneth Paltrow’s coronavirus tips 70%
      the cast of Jersey Shore 80%
      loveconstitution1789 99%

      1. Facts hurt your brain?

        1. What facts? No one knows the actual coronavirus death rate right now.

          1. correct. The question is should we take the precautionary principle to an absurd degree, when in all likely hood it’s not the horrific 220k number they are throwing around?

          2. Meant for here… but this is the actual CFR idiot. This is the most pessimistic count.

          3. LC1789 is using mortality by age group figures which have been pretty consistent over the last few weeks. These were the figures they came up with in China in February. They hold true for Colorado today. Including the interesting statistic that almost two thirds of deaths from the virus were men.

            1. Citation needed.

              1. Wow… you really are dumb. You can go to the CDC cite if you want. But many cites exist that have the same statistics including JHU. Do you want us to tell you how to use an internet search tool next?

              2. Cited below.

                I cited this page like crazy yesterday and you saw it. But we get it, ChipperMW is a moron.

      2. you leave JWoww out of this.

      3. Still not funny at all.

    4. 912 people died yesterday from this joke disease!

      But it’s ‘just the flu’

      Dude, just admit you underestimated the situation and move on. No shame in that. We all have made mistakes. Trump underestimated it as well, but now he understands.

      1. 30k have died of the flu in the US over the last 1w weeks.

        1. 12 weeks*

          1. That’s less than half the rate at which people are dying from coronavirus right now in the US. That’s with all the drastic measures that are in place. Do the math, dumdum.

            1. Oh, so you are going to use the peak rate of one disease over the full temporary cycle of the other and compare them.

              Nope, you’re not an idiot at all.

            2. For more data…

              2017 Flu killed 80k people over 16 weeks. That is 5k deaths a week for the entire season if you temporally average it and not look at the peak.

              Now do it for Covid which began in January for the US and is in week 10.

              1. True, and we develop vaccines for the flu that are sometimes effective. Many millions of dollars are spent every year to battle the flu and this is the best we can do. So be it. We have to live with it.

                The Hunan Flu is new, and we STILL don’t have good data on many aspects. The models are only as good as their assumptions of course, but they look pretty scary if a million people could die with our current practices. We don’t know what we have to live with.

                And the economic effect appears to be WORSE in the case of doing nothing according to a recent paper. OK, that’s one study, but unless they are way off base it says the economic impact is at worst small for social distancing.

                1. STOP with the fiction and the hysteria.

                2. But we don’t panic, creep up on declaring martial law, severely curtail personal freedom, and shut down the economy. Unless there are other motives to induce panic.

                  1. We learn. The Spanish flu gave us some information on how to fight a pandemic. Cities that restricted movement – physical distancing – had about half the death rates as cities that did not.

                    From its first known U.S. case, at a Kansas military base in March 1918, the flu spread across the country. Shortly after health measures were put in place in Philadelphia, a case popped up in St. Louis. Two days later, the city shut down most public gatherings and quarantined victims in their homes. The cases slowed. By the end of the pandemic, between 50 and 100 million people were dead worldwide, including more than 500,000 Americans—but the death rate in St. Louis was less than half of the rate in Philadelphia. The deaths due to the virus were estimated to be about 385 people per 100,000 in St Louis, compared to 807 per 100,000 in Philadelphia during the first six months—the deadliest period—of the pandemic.

                    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/

                    What should we do to save 100,000 or a million lives?

                3. Weve spent almost 3 trillion so far in response to Covid.

      2. ~655,000 Americans died from heart disease each year.

        That’s 54,583 per week. That’s 1,819 per day.

        BTW: That does not factor in all the other deaths each day. So 912 old people dying yesterday is a joke.

        1. Not the best analogy.
          I can pal around with heart disease patients and not worry about catching congestive cardiac failure.

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        3. I agree that COVID-19 is probably not the next Spanish Flu, but comparing it to heart disease, which is currently the #1 cause of death in the US, isn’t exactly fair without providing context.

          The #3 cause of death in the US is (according to the CDC) much less than 1/3 the mortality rate of heart disease at around 170k/yr. The numbers you provided show that COVID-19 would now be the #3 cause of death (and ~50% worse than “accidents”) if it’s current death rate (not growth rate) extend through the end of the year.

          That’s not a joke, especially since it’s an infectious disease and prevention is significantly more difficult than all but two of the top ten causes of death (flu/pnuemonia and suicide).

  2. Why the uncertainty? Because average people are morons.

    Proper use of face masks requires protocols that even trained practitioners struggle to achieve 100% of the time. Seeing average people with masks propped on their chins, or frequently worn over nose and mouth for a bit, then dropped to dangling below their chin, and then back up, proves that they do not understand (and have not achieved any significant protective factor. And even if people can use a proper mask in a proper way, they defeat that benefit with touching things, including the mask–and then touching their eyes (or nose and mouth immediately after removing a mask with bare hands).

    But go ahead and make a mask from your old T-shirts if that makes you feel better. You can burn some incense and sacrifice a chicken, too.

    1. My wife is a retired county public health nurse. Transmission of flu virus through the air is possible, mainly for those in close contact in a room with limited air exchange – like a nurse or doctor helping patients in a hospital. For almost all of the rest of us, it is extremely unlikely. If someone you live with has the flu you will probably get it anyway.
      The 98% of transmission is from someone with the flu touching something – a door knob, the handle to the fridge at the market, or a gas pump handle – and you come along later and touch it as well. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes then you inject tje flu directly into your body. According to a Harvard study most of us touch our faces every three minutes, half of those times our mouth, nose, or eyes. It is part of being human and very hard to stop. If you rear any mask then you will touch the mask instead. It is a physical barrier to your hands. Wear glasses and there is a barrier to your eyes as well.
      A sub-standard mask will not stop the 2% transmission by air, but the social distancing will.
      Why the Surgeon General has to make up excuses for wanting all the masks for medical professionals instead of just saying we want them foe hospital staff and first responders, I can’t say. Probably the instinct of bureaucrats to lie to the public.

      1. “ Why the Surgeon General has to make up excuses for wanting all the masks for medical professionals instead of just saying we want them foe hospital staff and first responders, I can’t say. ”

        I can say why. He’s a liar, but do you blame him? You can’t go to the grocery store and buy goddamn toilet paper because of the idiot public hoarding. Imagine the same public do that with masks and you have your answer.

    2. Agreed, you are supposed to be fitted for a mask and trained how to shape the ones with the little metal tab over your nose. Each time a new version or manufacturer is introduced we’re supposed to get trained all over again.

    3. Apparently COVID 19 is a heavy virus.

      That means it will drop to a surface pretty quickly as opposed to something like measles which float around in the air for a while.

      It’ll live on soft surfaces like masks for about 24 hours but hard surfaces for days. Apparently.

      1. ‘Heavy virus’ haha! The droplets are 99% water, so the virus weight or density is irrelevant to how it falls through the air.

        1. “ Airborne disease can spread when people with certain infections cough, sneeze, or talk, spewing nasal and throat secretions into the air. Some viruses or bacteria take flight and hang in the air or land on other people or surfaces.”

          http://www.healthline.com/health/airborne-diseases

          Airborne viruses don’t have wings dipshit. If they’re light enough they hang in the air and are called airborne. Heavy ones, like covid19 apparently, don’t.

          Smarten up.

          1. cough, sneeze, or talk, spewing nasal and throat secretions

            All those are almost all water and mucous, with some virus in them. The virus doesn’t go around as a single ‘cell’, it is floating in liquid.

            The ad hominem was unnecessary, and childish.

              1. Good link. You should read it:

                Transmission

                By respiratory droplets and by fomite. Virus found in respiratory secretions and saliva.

                1. Your statement is not wrong.

                  It seems that even Virology professionals disagree on what defines “airborne”.

                  Amen people cough, sneeze or breathe viruses are expelled in small droplets and larger ones.

                  Smaller droplets hang in the air and are aerosol while larger droplets depending on air currents land more quickly.

                  Apparently Covid-19 is only considered infectious in the larger heavier droplets that don’t hang in the air.

                  So weight of infectious particles seems to be the defining characteristic of something airborne. It also seems somewhat subjective.

    4. Most people don’t observe the same hand washing protocol as medical personnel either. I don’t hear anybody scrapping that.

      1. No harm comes from hand washing. Even a complete idiot will have moderate success.

        Improper use of a mask, which touches the nose, mouth and eyes where viruses enter the body, can do more harm than good.

        1. I’m developing a theory that I.Q. Is a significant factor in the spread of disease.

          Wash those hands.

  3. South Korea did really well at testing, but they also practiced good hygiene, including pervasive use of masks. They also did not need to shut down their entire economy. (Their economy was still impacted by people going into isolation as the virus was discovered.)

    If there is anything that this virus has taught me, it is that our entire nation- indeed most of the west- is infected deeply with the puritan need to scold. “Stop wearing masks.””Don’t stand so close!” “Line up correctly”. “Stay Home!”

    If people could get past their desire to pronounce judgement on their peers and leaders every time a decision gets made, then MAYBE, we would see some more concise decisions being made?

    1. Some Americans have become absolute pussies. This cough due to cold exposes that.

      That will change one way or another.

      1. Are the people it kills pussies, or just the ones that get better? I’m confused.

        1. 912 pussies met their maker yesterday in the USA, according to some people.

          1. Man.. you’re gonna shit your pants when you find out how many people die every day. You’ll never drive again, eat a hamburger, walk within a mile of smokers… just end it early. People die. Sorry you had shitty parents who made you think you’re immoral.

            1. Add a t to immoral

            2. It’s hard to look up death state for some people.

              Only KungFlu is in the news, so only KungFlu is killing people according to some people.

              I just don’t know how America made it through the Revolutionary War, all subsequent wars, all previous pandemics, and without a full government takeover and economic shutdown?

              These people get glossy eyed when I tell them that thousands of Americans died every day from stuff besides Wuhanvirus.

            3. 38,000 people die in the USA every year in car accidents. We spend billions of dollars every year to reduce that number, or at least not increase it. Seat belts, safety windows, crash tolerant designs, reinforced doors, grooved pavement, salted roads, etc.

              3,000 people die from foodborne diseases. We spend billions each year to reduce that number.

              40-50,000 die from the flu. And the drug companies spend billions EVERY YEAR to develop vaccines, not to mention the R&D at NIH and CDC.

              480,000 die from smoking. (I’m assuming that is a real stat because people want to blame cigs for everything) We don’t spend much to limit that, but the tobacco companies certainly got f*cked by the government for this, and we have to jump through all kinds of hoops if we want to smoke. And we each have the freedom to eliminate any risk of our own. Like skydiving accidents, they are lifestyle choice risks.

              Most years NO ONE dies in a commercial plane crash. How many billions are devoted to keeping air travel safe?

              There are lots of risks. When a new one arises we have to learn how to deal with it. The indications are that this one is likely to be very serious.

              1. We have spent over 3 trillion so far on covid.

              2. So if we have two mitigation strategies of equal cost and we choose the less effective one resulting in more deaths, does that mean we got a better value?

        2. LC1789 is like Trump, he perfers individuals that don’t get captured by Covid-19.

      2. It would be great if the US and Europe had South Americans’ low number of infections and much lower fatalities.

    2. The hygiene and use of masks in South Korea predates this pandemic, so it wasn’t a big cultural shift, it wasn’t a shift at all, they just kept doing what they always do

      1. Same thing for us introverts.

  4. Honestly, they didn’t believe anyone out of a country of 330 million would check their math.

    1. And they won’t. It’s hard to explain to people who are hysterical about this that even if their worst case of 220k happens they likely won’t directly know anyone who dies or is even hospitalized by this. And the real numbers are going to be under 100k by a large margin. There are going to be many many people in this country who are going to be destitute from this and won’t even know 1 person who tested positive. It’s a recipe for political disaster. Trust in institutions is low now I can’t wait for these egg heads and politicians explaining to the 30% of the unemployed in this country how this was a great success when they don’t know anyone who was hospitalized from this or died. Should be interesting I imagine the media will quickly shift to why did the politicians cause this economic disaster when that happens in the most transparent gas lighting ever.

      1. Having an ill prepared administration with no cohesive organizational chart changing directives one minute after the other and sometimes simultaneously it isn’t had to see why people are confused. Videos posted by healthcare workers in hard hit hospitals are “debunked” by a citizen-moron who finds a hospital that isn’t overrun and produces a video insinuating the whole pandemic is made-up. Trump can’t decide whether he should talk about his ratings or whether he should send help to Sates whose governors don’t “treat him nice”. There is precious little information available that isn’t tainted by politics and politicians who avery bit as confused as their constituents. The closest thing we have to a trustworthy public expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is taking all kinds of heat from wrong, politically motivated people who insist his numbers are wrong and politically motivated. The Internet has given everyone with an opinion and a WordPress template the ability to spout nonsense in a slick, professional-looking manner that is often confused for journalism. Meanwhile, the real journalists are called fake by the guy who appears motivated by nothing but their adoration. We were well prepared to get clobbered by any highly transmissible infection that doesn’t care whether you’re well-connected.

        1. There is precious little information available that isn’t tainted by politics and politicians who avery bit as confused as their constituents.

          Of course. But you still blame Trump….because.

          TDS is more damaging than Covid 19. Fried your brain.

        2. Trump is a total clown agreed. he’s also in an impossible political position. Even when he wins he loses. He banned travel early castigated as racist. Said we’d recover and it wouldn’t be that bad in early march at a time when several notable politicians were telling people to actively go to parades and parties. He was castigated by the same people for not taking this seriously. He has the cdc write the most draconian recommendations and recommends states locking down, castigated as not doing enough. Issues a target for Easter say’s he’s not realistic and this thing is going to kill millions. doubles down on recommendations for the month and says they are trying to keep the death rate under 220k castigated for suggesting 220 are going to die and this is a success by the same people who were screaming this thing was going to kill millions. We are a week away from the people screaming about how dangerous this is are screaming about the economy. My prediction is the models don’t reflect the on the ground numbers by order of magnitude 5-10x off. And he hits his original Easter targets and basically says he wins. This is all stupid political bullshit and dick measuring and it’s costing people their livelihoods.

          1. And to date I don’t see his detractors offering any significant alternatives other than to say he’s doing it all wrong. Opinions that are taking advantage of 20/20 hindsight and predicting with all the accuracy of the Psychic Friends Network have the luxury of an opinion without the burden of responsibility or work for that matter. These should be viewed in the same light as socialism offered by politicians who at best offer Utopian dreams with no actual framework, let alone specifics as to how they will accomplish Utopia. I can say some words too.

            Biden is the perfect example. 40 years in the Federal government and the only thing he has offered to this point is rear mirror analysis worthy of a 5th grader. Hell, this man should have a Rolodex like no other, yet I’ve not heard about a call he’s made to accomplish something. Hides in his basement and talks with Joy Behar on The View, but has yet to offer a forward looking analysis.

            I personally dislike Trump and thinks he has made his share of mistakes on this and many other things. However, damn… one thing he does understand is logistics and deal-making with business interests that can offer solutions at wholesale with a nice balance of coercion and benefit. To date I haven’t seen any of his detractors who have so much as run a lemonade stand, [and no, sitting in a studio or voting in Congress is not running a damn thing] that I’d want in charge.

            Let’s also give some grace that when dealing with something unknown and on this level with the sharks biting at every word they disagree with, you’re gonna make some mistakes… probably a lot of them. I gave the same grace to Obama about losing a valve on an oil well. Out of his control, blew it a few times, and yet on a comparative level, wasn’t so much as a spec on a screen to this thing, politically or pragmatically.

  5. “…it was not immediately obvious why the same masks that protect health care workers from infection suddenly become ineffective when worn by an ordinary grocery shopper or pedestrian.”

    It is because the medical experts of expertology have degrees and credentials and licenses, in doctorolgy and medicalology, and ordinary shoppers do NOT! It’s exactly the same reason why we all (except doctors) need special permission to blow on a cheap plastic flute!

    In these days of MASS DEATH, please stay SAFE from viruses, AND from the flute police!

    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

    1. I wish I could understand the reasoning behind anti-intellectualism. But I realize that when my car breaks down I take it to a mechanic rather than let my 6 year old son take a crack at it. It’s why I went through Chemo rather than drinking some ammonia-based Miracle potion morons hawk on the Internet. Experts- those who study the things they work on for years- are called experts for a reason: they’re experts. I get that if you never went to college or learned to really think critically on your own you might not be able to grasp that. A dollop of self hatred and jealousy makes it even easier to stay dumb. I just don’t understand wanting to stay ignorant and making scientists out to be evil. You’re certainly lucky that science is working for you regardless. In the meantime, try not to fall off the edge of this flat Earth.

      1. Please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/
        Did you look at this before commenting? This “lung flute” is a cheap plastic flute… Less intrusive into your body than a toothbrush is! If I should need a prescription for a cheap plastic flute, than I should SURELY need a prescription for a toothbrush! This is rent-seeking and power-seeking by the FDA and doctors, pure and simple! Note also that the “lung flute” is OTC worldwide, except for the USA! North Korea has more lung flute freedom than we do!

        Do YOU have any rational excuse for this? If so, I’d sure like to hear it!

        In the meantime, if you like slavery, and having your superiors make every last utterly trivial decision for you, please go and join Scientology, or some other cult, and let the rest of us seek real individual freedom, without denigrating our efforts!

      2. “But I realize that when my car breaks down I take it to a mechanic rather than let my 6 year old son take a crack at it.”

        Making this equivalent to the rent-seeking we see in medicine these days, I think you should need a prescription from a PhD mechanical engineer before you get an oil change for your car! Just for YOU, not for ME and my car! I will bet you that if you call the Church of Scientology, they will be happy to sell you (for the right price) Scientological prescriptions for your oil changes, and maybe even faith healings (via e-meter) for you and your car as well!

      3. Most experts aren’t as knowledgeable as either you or they think they are, or at least their knowledge makes very little difference. The replication crisis is a real thing. Letting an experienced mechanic, whose techniques have been proven out in practice rather than just theory is very different than believing the same scientists/doctors/experts who all seem to have “proof” that EGGS are all simultaneously terrible, neutral, and great for your health depending on the day of the week…

        I don’t know why you want to stay ignorant and make “scientists” out to be saints. Science barely works half the time when every ten years they come to the opposite conclusion that they previously had, then ten years later their “science” reverses again. A dollop of hero worship and appeals to authority makes it even easier to stay dumb. Your “critic thinking” classes in college sure didn’t help you any…you might want to stop throwing stones.

  6. I all honesty if they lie to us about basic efficacy of masks for our own good why should we trust them on anything?

    1. Their confused directives about masks were made to cover up the fact that we weren’t at all prepared for this. If a mask is effective, people should wear them. But if they told people that, there would be even fewer available to those on the front lines and panic would have set in sooner and pandemonium would have come sooner than it inevitably would. Lying and borrowing money are the only two things Trump knows how to do. It’s why those two things are the only things he’s been solidly behind.

      1. If you like your mask, you can keep your mask.

      2. The mask being ineffective is also being promoted by the WHO and other “experts” not under the CDC or FDA payroll. It’s also important to keep in mind that the people like Fauci and Birx are bureaucratic hold overs who are supposedly non partisan. Not everything that happens here is about trump. But I guess it’s easier if you can blame one man.

      3. WE weren’t prepared or THEY weren’t prepared?

      4. Yes, their directives have often been quite confusing and contradictory. What is lost here however, is the fact that most scientists [and doctors] work in a black and white world of absolutism. They also tend to be extremely literal, and what they say should be interpreted in that light.

        While the rest of us work more on probability, doctors tend to work in absolutes. So when he says, “a mask will not protect you”, he’s only saying that you cannot depend on that with absolute certainty. You are either safe or not safe and relative risk is not relevant. He doesn’t want to promise safety when it’s only a risk reduction of 80%. But when the rest of us hear “a mask will not protect you”, we presume that means zero.

        Bottom line, as with all medical advice, it should be absorbed with common sense. As such, if a mask reduces my risk by 30% or 80%, I’ll take that over zero every day and twice on Sunday.

        And to be honest, doctors are probably not the best at determining what a mask will do. They are largely getting their information from other sources and they rarely factor in what other bias might be present. Much of this mask stuff originated at World Health Organization, which for me, past experience says they are a highly political organization that will put “the greater good” over the individual, every damn time.

  7. Half-educated, credulous, anti-government cranks can’t resist making inconsequential fools of themselves during a pandemic.

    1. “Half-educated, credulous, anti-government cranks can’t resist making inconsequential fools of themselves during a pandemic.”

      Don’t be so hard on yourself Farty, you would still be making a fool of yourself with or without the pandemic going on.

    2. I haven’t noticed your ignorance receding at all during this pandemic.

  8. What’s up with all the contradictory advice about [INSERT ANY TOPIC HERE]?

    1. The replication crisis (i.e. most of the data in either direction is bunk to begin with; “science” is proving itself to be far less reliable than commonly believed). Nobody has any idea what’s going on, but they think they do.
    2. People on one or both sides are citing favorable “data” or lying to suit their purposes (i.e. “masks don’t work” people get the masks for themselves and “critical” personnel, if the masks work THEY get protected, if they don’t work, it doesn’t matter; “masks do work” people get to wear masks to assuage their own fears without looking like hypocrites AND if they work, overall transmission declines)
    3. These people WANT there to be confusion so the general population doesn’t know what to do so they’ll go begging the “experts” to impart “critical” information and to run the whole show. Technocracy!
    4. These “experts” (who don’t actually know anything and KNOW they don’t know anything) are playing the market, hoping that no matter which way things go, roughly 50% of people listened to the “right” advice. 50% of the population “saved” AND the trust in “experts” is cemented.
    5. Remember, medical mistakes (you know, just “whoopsies” from these trained, credentialed, “medical experts”) are the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the USA. Somewhere between 210k and 420k deaths PER YEAR. They’re so good at their jobs, their numbers could be off by 200k-ish deaths (100%), but they’re not sure…

  9. If there were even masks to go around, they’d be telling us to us them. Just for the theater of it.

  10. “experts disagree” about the merits of face masks.

    They are, however, in complete agreement about shutting down the world economy.

    1. Actually, it is the politicians who agree on this, not the experts.
      Left alone, we would now be on the downside of the curve, without the economic disaster, and with fewer deaths than we accept from either abortion of traffic accidents.
      And, oh by the way, a greater herd immunity.

      1. The JHU sick map has stopped posting daily increases in confirmed cases as of 3/30/2020 on the tracker chart. The total tally keeps rising but not as fast.

        I wonder why?

      2. 912 corpses yesterday disagree.

        1. Now do it this way…

          0.00024% of the population yesterday disagrees.

          1. How many have to die in a day to concern you?
            2,000
            5,000
            10,000
            We could easily see those numbers. Or more.

            Or will it be one of your loved ones?

            If you have any.

            1. None of those numbers listed concern me.

              Until you get near 1% of the US population which is 3 million, then we can talk.

              As of today at April 1, 2020 there are 4,542 American deaths. A blip for todays deaths overall.

              1. If a new airline starts up and 4500 people die in crashes in its first month of operation, what would happen?

                Those other things are taken for granted because we already have done about as much as we can to minimize the deaths. This is new and still not well understood.

                1. The world would say it was a tragedy and move on while other airplanes continued to fly.

            2. A statistically significant amount. When it approaches even the top 5 in killers, maybe.

              1. (I’m not saying that this WILL occur) But if you project the current death rate (not the growth of the death rate) through the end of the year, COVID-19 would EASILY become the #3 cause of death in the USA for the year (depending on what the true number of deaths due to medical mistakes actually is).

            3. Lol. Cute appeal to emotion by the way. My mother had cancer last year. I’m not asking everyone to stop everything they are doing until she gets better. I also understand statistics and know her dying of covid, even with immune deficiencies, is small. So I’m not going to ask you to change your way of life to satiate her. Will you do the same?

        2. 1,800+ Americans died yesterday from heart disease. Thousands died yesterday from other causes too.

          1. Yeah, and we don’t spend a plug nickel on heart disease, do we?

            According to the study, in the next two decades, the number of Americans with cardiovascular disease will rise to 131.2 million — 45 percent of the total U.S. population — with costs expected to reach $1.1 trillion
            https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170214162750.htm

            That’s about $8.4k per person with heart disease.

            And that is a degenerative disease – old age – that can never be conquered completely, merely postponed.

            1. Almost like how the over 60 death rate cant stop death, only postpone it.

            2. Really, the equivalent to how we are handling covid to how we handle heart disease is if we forced everyone onto a national diet and exercise plan. You are free to exercise at any time of day, as long as you do it once a day.

  11. >>The combination of limited evidence and conflicting priorities has resulted in whipsawing messages from experts.

    appeal to authority fallacy in practice.

  12. I see nothing contradictory. Don’t wear a mask unless you’re sick or you’re a medical professional in close contact with sick people. If you’re sick don’t go out in public anyway.

    But yeah let’s get people more worked up over 100K people dying from a commie flu virus. Fucking shitheads.

  13. Face Masks and Gloves don’t work for Plebs.

  14. “people with chronic conditions including diabetes, lung disease and heart disease appear to be at higher risk”

    “94% of hospitalized patients who died had an underlying condition”

    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/31/824846243/whos-sickest-from-covid-19-these-conditions-tied-to-increased-risk

    1. I would like to point out that the report does not provide an exhaustive list of what they considered “an underlying condition.”

      So what counts as an “underlying condition?” Just COPD, smoking, and diabetes? Well, no, they include pregnancy… what else, chronic sinusitis? Seasonal allergies? Eczema? Hashimoto’s disease?

      I’m being hyperbolic for a reason. I’d wager that 100% of Americans have an “underlying condition.”

      1. 100% of older Americans have an “underlying condition.”

        1. Plenty of obese young people in the U.S. with diabetes they don’t know about. Damm hospital cloggers.

  15. Let’s be blunt about this, the advice against private citizens using masks is only about the government class reserving an important and scarce resource for itself at the expense of the health of private citizens.

  16. “But “if you are NOT sick,” it adds, “you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask).”

    FFS people, who dare dispute the governments right to infringe your rights as to which risks the individual may choose to assume to preserve their well being.

  17. My best friend manages two hospitals radiology and CT Scan units. He told me at 1st the order was to wear the N95 mask as the virus was aerosol transmitted. Then they were told the regular surgical style mask was all that was needed because the virus was in the large spew droplets that could be stopped on contact. Now they ran out of N95s and many are simply not wearing any masks and they just assume anyone walking in the door has Covid.

    NOW, they are saying we should ALL wear masks while others are saying only certain people should as if the rest of the people won’t get it from not wearing one? Makes ZERO sense, thanks Federal Government Masters.

  18. I think your comments about the “confusing” advice comes in part from your own confusion about how the masks work in context of viruses. Let’s see if we can lay it out more clearly.

    Scenarios
    wearing a mask: | to protect yourself | to protect others
    you are sick . . . .| . . . 1 below . . . . . | . . . 3 below
    you are not sick. | . . . 2 below . . . . . | . . . 4 below

    1. If you are already sick (whether you know it or not), wearing a mask won’t make you healthy or even any less sick.

    2. If you are not yet sick, wearing a mask probably won’t make a difference because fitting a mask properly and wearing it consistently are hard to do and require somewhat specialized training and supervised practice – training and practice that medical professionals get as they’re coming up through the ranks but that the rest of us don’t.
    2a. So if you are not yet sick and are a doctor or nurse, go for it.
    2b. If you are not yet sick but are not a medical professional, the odds of you getting it right are so low that you’re wasting resources.

    3. If you are sick, wearing a mask (even improperly) could reduce your ability to infect others. This virus is passed mostly on the water particles of our unnoticed coughs and sneezes. Anything that traps those particles and keeps them inside your mask is good for the rest of us.
    3a. But for most of us, if you’re sick the better answer (by a lot) is to just stay home until you’re better.
    3b. Medical professionals, on the other hand, might have a mild or non-symptomatic case but still be needed at work. Their work puts them in really close contact with patients, open wounds, etc. Doctors and nurses have always worn masks primarily to keep from infecting their patients, not the other way around. That logic still applies.

    4. If you are not yet sick, you wearing a mask will not keep other people from getting sick because your’re not sick. (It sounds obvious but it has to be included for completeness.)

    1. Except everybody is staying home.

      So basically, the answer to it all is to become a fucking hermit until I die of heart disease.

  19. It should seem obvious to any person of average or better intelligence that wearing a filter over your nose and mouth will reduce the chance of being infected and also of infecting others. Someone needs to shitcan the Surgeon General for gross incompetence. And medical professional who says otherwise should be binned along with him.

    “Private” individuals don’t need to threaten the supply of “N95” masks, the FDA and NIOSH have no jurisdiction over individual citizens going about their private business. That means you fine wearing a 3M respirator with an associated organic gas filter cartridge. You can buy them at the local hardware store.

    The first fool who tries to arrest me or cite me for wearing a respirator in public had best watch out for his testicles.

    1. I doubt you can buy them anymore. Not easily.

  20. “What’s Up With All the Contradictory Advice About COVID-19 and Face Masks?”

    Easy.

    No one actually knows, but everyone believes they have to DO SOMETHING.

  21. What makes ‘reason’ think that the only reason health care providers wear masks is because of the Wuhan flu? (Yes, I said it.) Is ‘reason’ unable to understand that health care professionals and at-home caregivers are exposed to the virus for extended periods of time and at much closer distances than you are to some moron panic buying TP in the local supermarket? Is ‘reason’ unable to understand that health care professionals are exposed to a wide variety of people in the worst possible conditions, as opposed to treating a family member at home? I don’t think the moron scale goes low enough for ‘reason’.

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