National Mask Mandate

What does a “national mask mandate” even mean? FBI will be prowling around the country, catching unmasked people? National Guard will be deployed? What?

For the inattentive: today, Biden once again promised “a national mask mandate” after promising then unpromising then saying it was only to be enforced on federal property then promising and then unpromising it again. Please keep up with your very sane and serious candidate who knows how to solve COVID.

44 thoughts on “National Mask Mandate”

  1. So when I hear national mask mandate, I simply think of continuing to do what I do now: wearing a mask when I go shopping, go to work, etc.

    I do agree that in some cases, mask-wearing is overdone. For example, there’s no need to wear a mask if you’re outdoors and social distancing, or if you’re jogging.

    But almost every medical expert strongly recommends we use face masks in public, especially when we can’t socially distance. I’m curious if this is something you disagree with.

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    1. Yes, I disagree completely because every expert considered masks useless for this kind of virus until very recently. Dr Fauci said so in January, for instance.

      But that’s not even the point. What I wonder is how can this national mandate be enforced? What’s the agency that will be enforcing it and how will it do that?

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      1. “Yes, I disagree completely because every expert considered masks useless for this kind of virus until very recently. Dr Fauci said so in January, for instance.”

        But this is a completely new virus. So experts are going to change their mind as new information and new studies about the virus become available. This is a good thing. Is there actually a debate going on now among the experts about the effectiveness of masks? I am uninformed and unaware about lots of things, I’m sure, so if there is such a debate, I’d like to know more about it. Even Laura Ingraham wore a mask at a Trump rally a few days ago.

        RE: The national mandate. It may not be able to be enforced effectively. Or are you worried about local and state police arresting people for not wearing masks? I’m not sure what your concern is here. Is it increasing authoritarianism or the complete worthlessness of a law that can’t be enforced?

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        1. There have been two major studies on masks and SARS-COV-2. One in Denmark in August and another one more recent in the US. Neither group of scholars is managing to publish their results. There’s a complete blackout. No study confirming the masks’ usefulness with SARS-COV-2 exists.

          So what’s the point? Why are we hearing so much about an unenforceable and a clearly unconstitutional national mask mandate? Why are researchers being censored? What’s the end game?

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        2. There was a bit of confusion early on about mask wearing, but now it is basically universally accepted by epidemiologists and healthcare professionals worldwide.

          You won’t go to a hospital that is treating COVID patients and see doctors not wearing masks. It’s standard practice for all infections diseases, COVID is no exception.

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          1. “You won’t go to a hospital that is treating COVID patients and see doctors not wearing masks”

            True, but they’re wearing (hopefully) masks with filters and not random dirty cloths stuck in and out of their pockets all day (which is what most people wear most of the time).
            I don’t mind wearing one in some cases but when I’m outside and no one is within 5 meters or so I take it off.
            Also the dirty cloths usually mean that you breathe through your mouth more and it’s hard for me to believe that’s good….

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            1. Agreed, I think that’s what the discussion was about earlier on. People are just not well educated on proper mask use. The way I see it, it’s not that masks are ineffective but more that when not properly worn and handled they can do more harm than good. But I don’t see that as reason to just give up, it would be much more productive to educate people and make sure everybody has access to good single use surgical masks.

              Yeah, I don’t wear cloth masks, they seem very unhygienic to me unless you wash it and disinfect it after every use.

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              1. How about those who think masks are useful and protect them from something go ahead and wear them and leave the rest of us alone? I’m completely in favor of locking up the anxious part of the population for years or indefinitely so that the rest of us can get on with it, too. Currently we have a situation where some people are forcing others to do bizarre things against our will. That’s unfair and immoral.

                Nervous? Great, order a Hazmat suit and be done with it.

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              2. Those who think masks are useful and protect them include basically all the major local health departments and state governments in the country. Unless that changes, mask mandates will stay. I mean, even Texas mandates them.

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              3. “FL doesn’t mandate them. It’s nice.”

                That’s true, but their department of health still recommends to wear a “cloth cover:”
                https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/prevention/

                Other local counties such as Broward county FL do mandate them. I imagine other big cities such as Orlando do so as well.

                In any case, I have yet to see any health department flat out say masks don’t work and advise against wearing them.

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              4. The psychological aspect is extremely important. People need to believe they are in control. These are psychological mitigation measures. For years, the CDC and the WHO have been saying just that. Masks in these viral pandemics have a psychological effect

                The truth about the virus is that there is no mitigation. It’s going to rip through the population sooner or later. You can drag it out like Argentina or let it rip like Sweden. But it’s going to come and you can’t stop it.

                The good news is that it’s less dangerous than the seasonal flu so we can all relax. And the particularly nervous should definitely wear masks, stay home, anything they want.

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              5. “I have yet to see any health department flat out say masks don’t work…”

                You’re kidding, right? They were all saying that up until the first week of April when Henny Penny told them it was time to mask up or die. (Science says whatever WE tell you it says…)

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          2. You also won’t see doctors at a hospital in regular clothes. But that doesn’t mean we should all walk around in scrubs.

            Masks outside of hospital settings have a psychological effect of making people feel like they have some control over the situation. It’s a self-soothing mechanism for the anxious.

            To me, however, masks are a symbol of people I don’t like or respect forcing me to do something I know to be ridiculous and useless because they failed to invest in their mental health and education. It’s the symbol of powerlessness in the face of ignorance and hysteria.

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            1. “You also won’t see doctors at a hospital in regular clothes. But that doesn’t mean we should all walk around in scrubs.”

              Yeah, but they wear them because their useful and effective, otherwise why would they bother?

              “To me, however, masks are a symbol of people I don’t like or respect forcing me to do something I know to be ridiculous and useless because they failed to invest in their mental health and education. It’s the symbol of powerlessness in the face of ignorance and hysteria.

              Fair enough, that’s your personal opinion.

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              1. They are useful and effective in a hospital setting. But we never tried recreating a hospital setting outside of hospitals before, so why start now?

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              2. “Fair enough, that’s your personal opinion.”

                Actually, this is not about personal opinions.

                If this was about personal opinions, the state and public health bureaucrats would be recommending the use of masks. And, who would object to that?

                But this about the use of the coercive power of the state to mandate masks. In this case, state power is being backed/reinforced by the full power of the economic elite and the media/social media elite.

                From the OED – “Chiefly U.S. To require (some action) by legal mandate or other formal process; (more generally) to make mandatory or compulsory.”

                So in the context of making something universally compulsory, it seems very fair to ask where’s the scientific evidence that universal masking (or lockdowns) actually work to reduce significantly serious illness and death from this disease?

                Liked by 1 person

              3. “If this was about personal opinions, the state and public health bureaucrats would be recommending the use of masks. And, who would object to that?”

                Those who think masks are useful and protect them include basically all the major local health departments and state governments in the country. Unless that changes, mask mandates will stay. I mean, even Texas mandates them.

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              4. “They are useful and effective in a hospital setting. But we never tried recreating a hospital setting outside of hospitals before, so why start now?”

                So the virus all of the sudden behaves differently in a hospital setting? If masks are effective in hospital settings, why would they not be effective outside hospital settings?

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        3. Debate is silenced. People don’t want to lose their jobs. Only brave medical professionals are dissenting and they are being attacked.

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  2. In the various articles and reports that I am seeing, I keep on seeing the words “Melbourne” and “Victoria”, which is where a quite strict lockdown that included mandatory mask wearing is seen as being successful.

    If I had to guess as to where this is all going, I’d say that various politicians around the world are, as a rule, implementing partial lockdowns that they know (and have been advised) are practically pointless, while accepting that both infections and deaths will continue to worsen.

    The reason that Melbourne and Victoria are being mentioned while the measures used in that place are not implemented is so that economies can remain open for the sake of appeasing the various economic lobbies, while putting up a signpost to point at for later should the pandemic worsen beyond toleration.

    If by magic the pandemic disappears – which will not be the case – the politicians in charge will loudly proclaim that they made the wise decision of knowing about yet avoiding the harsh and draconian measures used in Melbourne, while if the pandemic worsens, they will implement that model and crow that they made the wise decision of implementing the only model proven to work.

    Also, in regards to whether or not masks do or do not work, the material that I have seen indicates that masks cannot be considered in isolation. Alone, they do not change outcomes very much. However, when used in conjunction with other techniques like avoidance, isolation, hygiene etc then they have a measurable epidemiological effect.

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    1. “while accepting that both infections and deaths will continue to worsen”

      In Europe at least, deaths are not continuing to worse in terms of infection to death ratio…. the number of infections is several times higher than the march-april surge while the death rate is far, far smaller. In countries where march-april was much milder, the death rate has increased but nowhere near where it was for countries like Spain or Italy in march-april so Poland has about four or five times as many daily infections as Italy during its peak but a death rate that’s between a quarter and third of Italy’s at that time.
      One problem for hospitals now is, I think, that survival rates are much higher while all the extreme protocols are being maintained from march-april when people assumed it was super(naturally?) contagious.
      And of course AFAICT not one single European government used the summer lull to shore up supplies for a second wave because these days that’s not what governments do, planning ahead for citizen safety is nation-state stuff while post-nation-state fluidity is about last second reactions…. (to beat that dead horse another time or two).

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      1. “In Europe at least, deaths are not continuing to worse in terms of infection to death ratio…. the number of infections is several times higher than the march-april surge while the death rate is far, far smaller.”

        Couple things.

        First, it is far too early to tell what the IFR (infection fatality rate) actually is for coronavirus disease beyond saying that the IFR consequent to the primary disease appears to have fallen for time interval >12 months or so post initial infection.

        What I mean by that is that some viruses infect and subsequently affect people initially and result in a primary infection, followed by reinfecting them or reaffecting them later on with some kind of secondary infection and/or disease state.

        An example of that might be, say, the virus that causes chickenpox, which has the name Varicella Zoster. The initial infection with that virus presents itself in a primary disease state featuring body-wide skin rash, which does not particularly harm the patient. Later on – sometimes after many years in some cases – a re-emergence of the same virus in the same patient may result in a secondary disease state called ‘shingles’ that is quite different from the primary disease, since it only affects a particular patch of skin rather than all of it, and features a different kind of rash, pain etc.

        The same thing seems to happen with some viruses that affect the liver, that end up causing hepatitis and cancer later in life.

        Anyway, regarding SARS-CoV-2, we can say confidently that we are better at stopping people from dying from the initial lung disease in the first few weeks or months (>12 months or whatever) but we can’t say that we have definitely stopped them from dying from the disease, because we are seeing spontaneous resurgences months later.

        So, for all we know, people infected with SARS-CoV-2 might get some kind of breakout that gives them a heart attack in a couple of years or whatever, which would bring the IFR back up to what was observed in March-April 2020.

        The next thing to talk about is that we now know that antibodies to the virus, if produced at all, seem to disappear something like 4-6 months after convalescence, and that people may be reinfected, plus that reinfection appears to result in a disease state that is worse than the first one. So, the SARS-CoV-2 virus becomes its own comorbidity, which complicates calculations a bit.

        Personally what I predict just as an opinion/guess as the weather continues to cool and people continue to be infected and reinfected is a big, sudden, and scary spike in deaths and death rates (IFRs and CFRs) beginning in earnest sometime around the new year, give or take a month, which I think will happen due to a combination of reinfection, reemergence, and collapse in provided medical care.

        By the way, not to be fussy or anything but I didn’t mention IFR or CFR in any case. I just said that infections and deaths would get worse, which, taking a look at the raw number of cases and deaths being published, is clearly the case.

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        1. “I just said that infections and deaths would get worse”

          Infections are getting worse only in the sense that there’s more testing now (since random antibody tests always seem to indicate far larger numbers have been exposed than positive tests would indicate).
          Fatalities in Europe are not, on the whole, getting worse.

          My proposal would be to treat covid not through lockdowns (the fact that the policy originated with the Chinese Communist Party should immediately make it suspect…). Instead, let’s treat it like driving. We accept that traffic accidents happen and some people will die in them even as we try to do what we can to reduce the numbers and make sure we’re not casualties ourselves. We don’t say ‘too many accidents, nobody can drive for the next two weeks!’.

          I think the country to look at here is Sweden, which despite some missteps early on has so far, despite large numbers of new cases, not had a second wave of fatalities. They have not had more than 6 fatalities in a single day from July 18 or so through October 29 (last day I can find numbers for). Also interesting is that Swedish-Chinese relations were not great at the beginning of the pandemic which is maybe why they didn’t follow the recommendations of Xi and the Chinese communists….

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          1. “Infections are getting worse only in the sense that there’s more testing now (since random antibody tests always seem to indicate far larger numbers have been exposed than positive tests would indicate).”

            Respectfully, I can’t accept either of these statements. The quality and extent of serological testing so far has been very poor. Regarding the quality of testing, only a few months ago we had whole tranches of test results being invalidated due to the high false positive rate, or such things as contamination by the manufacturer. Regarding the extent of positive infections, a year ago we weren’t testing at all, and so can’t compare the number of positive results with anything except either modelling, or what it was last week.

            “Fatalities in Europe are not, on the whole, getting worse.”

            Respectfully, yes they are. Without going into things too deeply that is easy to see just by taking a look at the excess death data out of Europe and seeing not only what is happening to the excess death rate as a whole compared to baseline, but also seeing if there is any correlation between inordinate excess deaths in a location with published COVID cases in that location – which by the way there is.

            If I might suggest, perhaps look at the following link, paying particular attention to detected infection rate in a country, and the excess death rate in that country: https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps

            “My proposal would be to treat covid not through lockdowns (the fact that the policy originated with the Chinese Communist Party should immediately make it suspect…).”

            Respectfully, lockdowns of various kinds as a response to contagion have been used for at least centuries, if not millenia. The fact that the Chinese regime happened to use it is, imo, irrelevant.

            “Instead, let’s treat it like driving. We accept that traffic accidents happen and some people will die in them even as we try to do what we can to reduce the numbers and make sure we’re not casualties ourselves. We don’t say ‘too many accidents, nobody can drive for the next two weeks!’.”

            Again respectfully, no. It isn’t reasonable to compare driving to viral infections because in the case of driving, a generally constant number of traffic accidents occur compared to the number of cars on the road, or hours driven. The number of traffic accidents does not depend on the number of previous traffic accidents, which means that if we were to write a mathematical formula for traffic accidents over time, the function would generally be linear.

            For infectious diseases with an R0 above 1 (for which SARS-CoV-2 qualifies) though, the number of infections per person or per day is not constant, but depends on the number of previous infections. So the more infected ones there are, the more people they infect, each of whom infects more, which means that if we were to write a mathematical formula for infection, it would not be linear as in the case of traffic accidents, but would be some kind of exponential function.

            Regarding Sweden, so far the reason for their overall low death rates is most easily explained by regular boring genetics. After all, SARS-CoV-1 affected the Asian races much more than the caucasians, as did early strains of SARS-CoV-2. I personally think that they just got lucky and haven’t been too affected by any particular strain of the virus just yet, but could be wrong. Not enough info just yet.

            Apologies again for how much this post disagrees with yours, Cliff. I don’t mean to in any way attack or diminish (and am not) – I just disagree, and am explaining why with a bit of length is all 🙂

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            1. Lockdowns for the Bubonic plague, ok, fine. Not that it helped much or at all. But for a glorified head cold that the overwhelming majority of the infected don’t notice?

              This is beyond crazy.

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        1. Back in January/February, hardly anyone knew what the virus was, how it behaved, what it did etc. At the time, all we had were rumours out of China about large numbers of bodies being incinerated, elevated sulphur dioxide levels in the atmosphere indicating that a lot of cremation was happening, and videos or posts that would actually persist on the internet for a few hours – even a few days – before being deleted.

          In other words, the world didn’t know anything about the virus. Except that we did. Some of us, anyway.

          At that time, because of unusual circumstances, I already knew that the death toll in China had exceeded 50,000, knew that the virus was airborne, knew that the incubation period was sometimes far longer than the still presently accepted 11 or so days etc.

          So. On television in the UK, the narrative being put out is that lockdowns aren’t really needed etc etc, and yet behind closed doors, a group of people who really don’t care about regular people very much have decided that it is best to spend 1.8 billion pounds per day locking down the entire country that provides them the wealth, luxury, prosperity, and all the good things that they actually care about more than anything else.

          What this means is that the virus is a lot worse than people in the public are being led to believe, which isn’t being communicated to them in an alarming way so as not to overburden them.

          At the moment, deaths following infection have been pushed back by about 6 weeks thanks to superior methods of treatment. So, we should see a really good uptick in deaths in a matter of weeks that should be fairly attention grabbing, with lots of politicians really preferring that a vaccine be available when that happens – however imperfect it may be.

          Hopefully that answered your question 🙂

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          1. “the world didn’t know anything about the virus. Except that we did. Some of us, anyway. At that time, because of unusual circumstances, I already knew that the death toll in China had exceeded 50,000…”

            Windbaggery defined.

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  3. Biden’s mask mandate means about as much as Trump’s wall. It’s a symbolic gesture. Whether or not it is possible or would serve any useful purpose is beside the point.

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    1. “I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be seeing…”

      What you’re seeing is what happens when one throws a few scattered factoids at a wall of words to see if any of them stick.

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    2. @Cliff Arroyo: perhaps it’s easier to see using the map. So, please go to the link and find the heading “z score by country”, which features a map. Above the map is a scrolling time bar/playback bar. On the left is a play button. When you click the play button, the map will begin to change, with different countries changing colour as the excess deaths in the country change according to the legend on the right.

      Play the video from the beginning, taking note of which countries change colour and when. What you are looking for is what happens at week 42 and week 43 of each year, since we are presently at week 43 of 2020. What you will observe is that the map doesn’t change much at all at weeks 42 & 43 of any year until 2020, which would indicate that something unusually bad is happening right now, which is relevant to our discussion because we were talking about how things are going in Europe.

      Please also keep in mind that the map shows deaths, not only the infections that we were talking about earlier, and that they have really only just started compared to weeks 11 & 12 of 2020, which is when the last outbreaks got out of hand. At the moment, there is a lag in between infection and death of something like 6 weeks (I keep on seeing different numbers for that one so please don’t quote me too much there), which means that the map above should be revisited every now and again for the next few months to see how later 2020/early 2021 parallel early 2020.

      @GSW: Okay then. Please, explain why the exact countries that are in the news regarding SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks or lockdowns are the ones changing colour on the map above, which are Portugal, Spain, UK, Italy, Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands in week 42, and Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands in week 43.

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  4. I’ve seen graphs that show cases over time in multiple countries with mask mandates (of any) marked out. Masks are not preventing cases. Cases are shooting up after intro of masks in some cases. I saw reference to a published study of the 1918 flu which showed use of cloth masks actually caused bacterial pneumonia. Fauci is an author of this study Masks make us sicker. They trap damp warm air which is a great media to grow bacteria. They reduce O2 and increase acidification. They strain the cardiac system.

    Masks for general use are not healthy and they don’t prevent disease. This is purely political.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Masks for general use are not healthy…”

      Honestly, I don’t know who to believe on this as there doesn’t seem to be conclusive evidence one way or another. Without it, the state should not be mandating their use – encouraging, sure – why not, but making masks compulsory, no. This is not like vehicle seat belts where there was strong evidence of harm reduction before they were made mandatory.

      Masks are a less serious issue than the other hobbyhorse of progressive elites in the west – lockdowns. Here the evidence seems pretty conclusive that they don’t change the already very, very, very low rate of death or serious illness from disease, they just interrupt/postpone the inevitable working of the virus through a population. The obsession with counting daily the number of diagnosed cases – as if this was a meaningful statistic – is just plain mean and stupid henny-pennyism.

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      1. Thank you, GSW. I break out in hives whenever I hear the word “cases” in any context.

        As for the rest belts, as somebody quipped, yes, they are mandatory but only when you are in the car. I think it’s a brilliant idea for people who are coughing or sneezing up a storm for any reason to wear a mask. Great habit! Let’s encourage it. But for healthy people who are at virtually no risk from COVID, I’m sorry, but it’s insane. If it’s a personal choice, great. But forcing people? Why?

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  5. It’s not mask-wearing I dread—a facemask is simply just another article of clothing one has to put on, just like a scarf or a pair of gloves or a pair of socks
    ….what I most dread is another damn “shutdown”. So long as they keep things OPEN, that’s all I really care about anymore.

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