Anytime things go from widely disputed to sudden, virtually-overnight national “scientific consensus,” it’s probably a good idea to be a wee bit skeptical. So it goes with the forced universal masking issue. We’ve obviously run quite the gamut on this, from being told not to wear them at all while the pandemic was at its peak -- and everyone and their neighbor was crowding and swapping moisture particles in Lowe’s and Walmart aisles across America -- to the now almost cultlike, lockstep message from politicians, the media and every leftist still too frightened to come out of their basement that not wearing masks in every possible setting is pretty much the equivalent to stabbing grandma in the heart.
It’s all a farce, of course -- absurd theater forced upon us by people who would have probably believed in witches a few centuries ago. Now that the Karen-caucus has managed to browbeat most Republican lawmakers and even President Trump into some degree of at least verbal submission, they apparently expect the rest of us rubes to take their word for it and follow along. They think if they condescendingly say the words “I wear the mask to protect you and you wear the mask to protect me” enough, everyone will mindlessly obey. And if you don’t, they want to use the force of law to punish you severely.
No, the ongoing, relentless, unceasing crusade to force every American to wear masks to “stop the spread” of coronavirus isn’t about to end anytime soon, if ever. Even with deaths declining, they keep the pot stirred up with panic porn about spikes in new cases and hospitalizations in southern and western states. Nevermind the fact that the so-called “surge” in hospitalizations in Texas turned out to be, as Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel noted, mostly people getting “elective” surgeries that had long been delayed due to coronavirus. So yeah, if you’re a dishonest media hack I guess you could call those “coronavirus-related.” However, the reality isn’t what the media panic-inducers want to convey, which is probably why you thought the hospitals were getting filled with actual, life-threatening COVID-19 cases until you read this.
As far as whether or not masking actually works to “stop the spread” of coronavirus, I can point to studies (assuming - and this is a big assumption - that Big Tech allows them to remain online), and the masking proponents can as well. We can go back and forth on the potential long-term dangers posed by non-medically trained people wearing, breathing through, touching and constantly fiddling with veritable Petri dishes for several hours a day (I’m right, they’re wrong, but whatever …). We can even debate whether forced-masking is truly an infringement on personal freedoms (it is) or discuss the validity of the view, popular among many go-along-to-get-along Christians these days, that masking is somehow the key to “loving your neighbor” (it’s not).
Does masking work? (Maybe.) How well? (Hard to say.) Is it 100 percent safe? (Doubt it. Even assuming you’re getting enough oxygen, how can breathing in your own germs all the time be ‘safe’?) Does God say one must put on a face diaper to properly “love your neighbor”? (LOL Uh, no.) Should freedom-centric societies force it on their citizens who aren’t obviously sick? (Hell no!) Certainly, we can argue over any of those issues and maybe never come to an agreement. I’ll admit it has become a politicized issue. Either position can sound convincing when considered without looking at the other side, and people generally have by-and-large made up their minds before even weighing the other side of their own view.
However, what most advocates ignore is one key observation that makes forced universal masking an insane and unnecessary policy choice in most situations, and that is this: even if masking worked, wasn’t dangerous at all and was not seen by millions as a pernicious tool of social control, I see no valid reason why we would want to stop the spread of the virus at this point.
There, I said it. The most powerful argument against universal masking is that it could in fact work to slow the spread of coronavirus. Please stay with me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t protect those who are vulnerable to the virus. Had we properly protected those in nursing homes, for example, we could have saved half the people who actually have died from this thing. Nevertheless, the facts are these: the virus is spreading at a rapid rate, but deaths have not spiked and have even decreased. The average age of those who are getting it is significantly younger than it was two months ago. And we’re not sure about this yet, but it also seems to have mutated into a weaker version that is more transmissible but less lethal than the version we saw in April.
The fact is, for all the suffering COVID-19 has caused among the elderly and immunocompromised, the actual death rate currently stands at less than half a percent and is declining rapidly as antibody studies come to light. The CDC recently estimated that 10 times the known cases have likely had the disease already and recovered. That’s probably a lowball estimate, but it equates to upwards of 10 percent of the U.S. population. As young people spread this seemingly milder version around while older folks take precautions, we’re ever closer to reaching herd immunity, which one recent study said can be attained with as little as 43 percent contracting the disease. That may still be a few months away, but in all honesty, it could be our only way out of this. They keep talking about vaccines, but no successful coronavirus vaccine has ever been produced and there’s little reason to think it will be now, nor that anything they roll out this quickly will be truly safe anyway.
So, if we aren’t overwhelming hospitals and people aren’t dying in droves, community spread is actually a good thing, especially when most cases are either mild or asymptomatic. Yes, it would take several months to get any degree of herd immunity, but that would surely be better than living forever like we've been living the past three months, no? What’s the alternative, living with this virus on the prowl for years, even decades? Masks forever? Endless, rotating shutdowns? The end of mass gatherings and sports? And if Democrats win, God forbid, an ever-encroaching police state hellbent on using this virus to torment us and our liberties until their Bolshevik dreams become a reality?
Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, also made the case during a recent Fox News appearance: “We like the fact that there’s a lot of cases in low-risk populations because that’s exactly how we are going to get herd immunity, population immunity. When low-risk people with no significant problem handling this virus, which is basically 99% of people, get this and they become immune ... they block the pathways of connectivity to more contagious, older, sicker people.”
Truly, is there any logical reason why those who are elderly, immunocompromised or even frightened about the virus couldn’t wear a mask that really protects them, like an n95, and let everyone else live their lives? Like it or not, herd immunity could be our only way out of this mess, our only way back to any sense of normalcy. The quicker that arrives, the safer those truly vulnerable to this epidemic will be.
Follow Scott on Twitter @SKMorefield