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OPINION

Covidians Back Themselves into a Corner on Forced Masking

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

When you take into account the divisiveness, unscientific nonsense, and tyrannical madness that has gone into the mask wars over the past two years, the thought that it could have all been avoided with a simple compromise is astoundingly frustrating to say the least. What, you ask? You mean there has always been a workable solution to insane, hypochondriac mask nazis doing everything possible to force damp, bacteria-laden pieces of cloth over everyone’s faces for nigh-on 22 months now? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying, and the solution was so obvious, so perfect, and so logical that, ever true to Branch Covidian form, it has been entirely avoided by the powers-that-be … until now.

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That solution, of course, is "one-way masking," and the concept, which Team Reality has known about since the forced masking insanity began, is finally gaining steam among leftists who are ready to take the OMICRON off-ramp but aren’t sure what to tell their more crazed, uh, risk-averse Covidian cultists. Here are just a few examples.

From an article for The Atlantic titled "One-Way Masking Works," by Olga Khazan:

"If you are vaccinated, boosted, and wearing a well-fitted N95 or similar indoors, 'your risk is extremely low,' says Joseph Allen, a COVID and ventilation expert at Harvard. 'I mean, there’s not much else in life that would have as low a risk as that. I would qualify your risk as de minimis.' An N95 mask filters about 95 percent of airborne particles. But two surgical masks—one on me, one on you—filter only about 91 percent, Allen wrote recently for The Washington Post. Because most people’s masks aren’t perfectly sealed onto their faces, studies show that N95s reduce the wearer’s uptake of coronavirus particles by 57 to 86 percent. And that’s on top of the protection that vaccines and boosters already offer."

"After all, N95s were what ER doctors wore to treat COVID patients at the very beginning of the pandemic—before vaccines or boosters were available, and before most people began wearing masks indoors at all. 'These masks are literally designed to block out infectious aerosols,' says Abraar Karan, an infectious-disease doctor at Stanford. He thinks that more everyday people should upgrade their masks, and that for health-care workers, N95s should be made mandatory."

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In a piece for The Washington Post titled, "Schools can safely make masks optional with the CDC’s new guidelines," Drs. Shira Doron, Westyn Branch-Elliman and Elissa Perkins wrote:

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on masks this past week, stating that respirators, such as N95s, are more protective than surgical masks, which in turn protect better than cloth masks. These updates are appropriate from a scientific standpoint. They also offer a pathway to compromise in the place where masking policies are most hotly debated: schools."

"Respirators and other high-quality masks are highly effective at protecting their wearers, regardless of what people around them are doing. That makes the old mantra “my mask protects you and your mask protects me” obsolete. As a result, schools can finally safely make masks optional for students and staff."

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and a frequent media contributor on the topic of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, told "CBS Mornings" anchor Tony Dokoupil earlier this month that one can protect oneself "under pretty much all circumstances" with a KN95 or N95 mask. 

"When I think about when I've been in the hospital taking care of sick patients with Covid, I'm wearing an N95 and they're not," he said. "The patients are not necessarily wearing masks, and yet I know that I am protected by that and of course I'm protected by my vaccine. So for immunocompromised people and for people who are worried about getting sick, wearing a high quality mask provides an enormous amount of protection against getting infected."

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Then there’s Dr. Leanna Wen, the former Planned Parenthood head best known in these circles for recently supporting draconian measures against the unvaccinated, including basically locking vaccine refusers in their homes. Even Wen, the queen of the Branch Covidians herself, is doing an about-face on restrictions and mandates and is touting one-way masking as a compromise.

"Times have changed," she wrote in a WaPo op-ed last week. "Cases are falling rapidly. Vaccines are widely available for everyone 5 and older, and they work: People vaccinated and boosted are 97 times less likely to die of covid-19 compared with the unvaccinated. Research also shows that respirator masks (N95, KN95 or KF94) are highly effective at protecting wearers, even if others around them are unmasked."

There you have it. They’re all-in, although it’s obvious to any thinking person that their motives are likely politics rather than any understanding of real science. They know the forever-restriction crowd can’t win in November, but they also need the staunch Covidians to come along. So this is a compromise, obviously. Except, I wonder if they realize what they’ve done? Because in effect, taking the “one-way masking” off-ramp to forced masking and contending that properly worn N95s could provide some real protection to the vulnerable forever discredits forced masking of the public going forward, from now until the end of time. 

Before you comment (and I know you’re thinking it), it doesn’t matter whether N95s actually “work” to stop or slow the spread of the virus. In fact, I would argue that, given failures in Germany and much of Europe, mandating them has NOT worked, at all. The point is that our Covidian would-be overlords, those arbiters of all things ‘science,’ are now declaring that they do work to protect the wearer. Fine. No take-backs. If your N95 mask protects you during the next Covid wave, I don’t need to wear one. Ever.

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