One of the greatest debates that have occurred throughout the entire Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is whether or not face masks are effective. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended Americans wear face masks when out in public to prevent the virus from spreading. It has been said that cloth face masks will not prevent the wearer from getting sick but can keep germs and droplets inside the face covering. The idea is that those spores and droplets are kept to the person and not introduced into the air, which could infect someone else.
Those who oppose wearing face masks make the argument that "herd immunity" is needed. In order to obtain herd immunity, enough of the population has to become infected with the virus or a vaccine has to be created that the coronavirus can no longer spread.
According to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R), achieving herd immunity is unrealistic because the majority of the American people would have to be infected (either naturally or through a vaccine). That threshold would overwhelm the health care system, particularly in his state.
Let’s talk about herd immunity. I’ve listened to some people argue that the rapid spread of cases is a good thing, and we need to reach herd immunity in Mississippi and elsewhere to survive. I’m not a health care expert by any means, but I am a math guy. And I have thoughts:— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
The experts say we need 70-80% of the population to get COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity. Let’s assume they’re wrong (it’s certainly possible, they have been before.) Let’s assume they’re being way overly cautious and we actually only need 40% infection for herd immunity.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
In Mississippi, our population is 3 million. We’ve had 36,680 cases so far.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
We’d need 1.2 MILLION infections to achieve that hypothetical 40% threshold. (Remember, experts say it’s double that.)
Over the last two weeks, our hospital system has started to become stressed to the point of pain. We are seeing the early signs and effects of it becoming overwhelmed. We had to suspend elective surgeries again.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
On our worst day of new cases, we had just over 1,000. It has typically been between 700-900 during this most aggressive time.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
To get to 40% infections, we’d need 3,187 new cases every day for a full year from today.
We would need to TRIPLE our worst day—every day—for a year.
I’m not one of these guys that immediately dismisses any idea that challenges the expert status quo talking points. I’m pretty skeptical by nature. That’s healthy. But herd immunity is not anything like a realistic solution in the short or mid-term. I wish it was.— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020
Unless you’re willing to go without hospitals after a car wreck or heart attack, we need a different approach. Right now, despite mixed messages at the beginning, it seems like masks are the best bet. They’re a hell of a lot better than widespread shut downs. Please wear one!— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 13, 2020