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Unmasking the Face Cloths

We’ve all heard it before: “Masks are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19!” Or sometimes they say “Masks are for protecting others!” Or sometimes it’s for protecting the wearer. But despite flip-flopping recommendations from the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the WHO, and others, anyone who questions the masks is immediately denounced as a “science denier.”

But is the scientific evidence and data supporting the wearing of masks really as airtight as government and mainstream media propagandists want it to be? The truth is that despite (presumably) well-meaning recommendations from the CDC and others, the evidence does not support their assertions about masks. Taking an honest look at the research is enough for unmasking the face cloths.

Research regarding the efficacy of the cloth face coverings that are typically used as masks is far from conclusive. In 2013, Chugtai et al showed that the evidence did not demonstrate that cloth masks stop the transmission of respiratory disease. Things did not improve with time. In 2020, Jain et al published a literature review concluding that face cloths did not protect health care workers, but maybe they could reduce infections in the general population as a last resort.

Not everyone was so generous—Dr Hardy wrote a review article in 2016 concluding that although they are intended to prevent against airborne infections, “face masks are incapable of providing such a level of protection.” Incidentally, that article was removed in 2020—not because it violated scientific principles or had been disproved, but because it “is no longer relevant in our current climate.” Unfortunately for the censors but fortunately for people who like science, the article is still available at archive.org. But sadly, a similar fate has met many scientists who have tried unmasking the face cloths.

Some studies do show a small decrease in infections with mask use, such as Larson et al who found that “there was no detectable additional benefit of hand sanitizer or face masks over targeted education on overall rates of [upper respiratory infections], but mask wearing was associated with reduced secondary transmission.” Some studies show that masks have no effect at all, and others even show an increase in infections with the face cloths.

If that doesn’t seem at all like the “settled science” preached by the media and governments, you’re right. As Perski et al stated in a May 2020 evidence analysis: “Available evidence from [randomized controlled trials] is equivocal as to whether or not wearing face masks in community settings results in a reduction in clinically- or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections.”

Generally, studies that purport to show the effectiveness of masks are conducted by measuring the filtering capacity of the mask in a lab. But randomized controlled trials conducted in real-world situations, such as this one, this one, and this one, usually show little or no practical effect of masks or face cloths in reducing infection rates.

Research has also shown that face masks become increasingly ineffective the longer they are worn. Kelkar et al showed that after 2.5 hours a person wearing a mask is actually shedding more infectious particles than they were before donning the mask. The only large randomized controlled trial to examine mask use in the COVID-19 setting found an insignificant 0.3% difference in infection rate between people who did and did not wear masks.

The information used to support mask mandates during COVID-19 has been of remarkably poor quality. For instance, a 2020 report from the CDC claims that mask mandates are associated with a 0.5-1.8 percentage point decrease in the growth rate of new cases. But in addition to this being of dubious clinical significance, the CDC did not control for other variables or examine the growth rate in areas without mask mandates. This means that the report cannot be used to draw the conclusion that mask mandates cause decreased infection rates.

Another CDC report examined data from Delaware in March-June 2020 and concluded that the state’s mask mandates and stay-at-home orders had contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID incidence. Again there was no control, so the CDC is assuming—not demonstrating—that the mandates account for the reduction. Also, the report excluded data from after June, when there were several large spikes in COVID cases in Delaware, despite the continued presence of the mandates.

unmasking the face cloths
Source: Covid Tracking Project – 7 Say Avg, Twitter @ianmSC

Another CDC report in February 2021 examined 10 states and had similar findings—and similar flaws (see below). Not to mention the inherent bias: isn’t it convenient that a government agency supported by government money found that the government’s measures were effective! These flaws are the rule rather than the exception in information that claims to support mask mandates.

unmasking the face cloths

When comparisons are made between COVID cases and/or deaths in areas with mask mandates and areas without them, there is no clear correlation (see below). Additionally, data show that compliance with mask mandates was been at 80-90% during the worst waves of the pandemic in autumn 2020, so the ineffectiveness of mask mandates cannot reasonably be blamed on noncompliance.

unmasking the face cloths

If the government, corporations, and hospitals are going to force you to wear a face cloth, there should be clear and unequivocal evidence that significant harm will occur if you don’t. Such evidence does not exist.

In fact, there is a large body of evidence, both research and raw data, which shows that masks are not effective at reducing respiratory disease rates in a population. Asymptomatic spread—a large driver behind the original push for face cloth mandates—has been shown to happen at a rate of <1% even among people living in the same house (i.e. not “social distancing”).  

When it comes to a straight examination of the numbers, it’s hard to beat Tom Woods and Ian Miller. Tom Woods’ COVID Charts Quiz makes clear that there is not any correlation between wearing masks and COVID-19 infections or deaths. Ian Miller has made amazing charts and articles documenting how the facts do not match the mainstream narrative on masks.

The idea that you might harm someone by not wearing a mask involves multiple theoretical possibilities: IF you come in contact with the virus, and IF it infected you, and IF that was an asymptomatic infection (you’d be staying home if you were sick, of course), and IF it was transmitted to another person, and IF it infected them despite them wearing a mask or being vaccinated (if they chose to), then there could be harm. Many of these “ifs” have a <1% chance of actually occurring.

When it comes to mask mandates in private businesses, there’s often the attitude that they can do what they like. It’s a private company, after all. But it’s a basic tenet of ethics that informed consent is necessary for a choice to be legitimate. When information is deliberately withheld, facts are distorted, and opposing viewpoints censored, the choice cannot be considered fully voluntary—it’s been engineered by those who control the information.

A person who is afraid of COVID-19 (or ANY disease) has no right to mitigate their fear by controlling your body, clothing, entertainment, or employment. The burden of proof cannot be on those who are attempting to live a normal life, but on those who want to restrict them. If face cloths work, there should be strong and clear evidence of it, and there is not. Belief in face cloths is just that: belief, or faith—and it is not a faith that you or I should be forced to participate in. 

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