Coronavirus and the Country’s Future (38)

Face Masks vs. Covid-19: The Evidence

Gary North ( – February 12, 2021

North Dakota state law requires people to wear masks. South Dakota does not.

If masks really do work to fight the spread of Covid-19, North Dakota’s Covid-19 rate per 100,000 people should be lower. But they aren’t.

Face Masks vs. Covid-19: The Evidence

The chart is posted here.

An expert in North Dakota rushed to deny the obvious. The statistics just cannot mean what they clearly mean. No, no, no.

But even with the many commonalities between the two states, experts warned against drawing firm conclusions at this point. Any parallel must come with the major caveat that South Dakota tests for the virus far less than North Dakota (North Dakota has consistently ranked in the top three states nationally in per capita testing, while South Dakota currently falls in the bottom 10), at levels so starkly different that Grace Njau, an epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health, said it is very hard to do “an apples to apples” comparison between the Dakotas.

Further muddying the waters, Njau countered the narrative, pushed in some anti-mask circles, that South Dakota is a clean example of a state that did nothing to head off its outbreak. Even though Noem eschewed state-level action, masking compliance seems to have climbed steadily in South Dakota this fall, and the state’s own patchwork of local mask mandates may have helped to turn the state around, Njau argued.

The Centers for Disease Control has a solution for North Dakota . . . and everywhere else: double masking. CNN reports:

Double masking can significantly improve protection, new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Researchers found that layering a cloth mask over a medical procedural mask, such as a disposable blue surgical mask, can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage.

“These experimental data reinforce CDC’s prior guidance that everyone 2 years of age or older should wear a mask when in public and around others in the home not living with you,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told a White House briefing.

“We continue to recommend that masks should have two or more layers, completely cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly against your nose and the sides of your face,” said Walensky.

“If at first you don’t succeed, mask, mask again.”

The new guidelines were posted on February 10. You can read them here.

What does President Biden think people should do? Nothing specific:

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday there’s no formal recommendation that people wear two masks, but is considering a “range of options” when it comes to getting masks to Americans.

Psaki told reporters during a news briefing that reports that two masks protect better than one were based on a “study, which was a reflection of the importance of well-fitting masks, something that many of our health and medical experts have talked about.”

I see. A “range of options.” This was the man who promised that he would get the best scientists to make recommendations. So far, there are no recommendations.

The CDC knows that the public is close to fed up with the masks. It knows what the public’s reaction will be to a requirement that people wear two masks.

The CDC mandated single masks. This has not worked. That puts the CDC in a difficult position. “We were wrong before. A single mask does not do anything to stop the virus. We didn’t know what we were talking about, but now we do.” The masks are for social approval. They don’t work to stop the spread of the disease, but they persuade people that the government has a solution. If you wear your mask, you are conforming. You trust government experts. This is what matters to bureaucrats