The science is becoming clearer on mask-wearing as COVID becomes an endemic problem. It doesn't work. Everyone is going to get infected eventually. COVID is now part of our lives…forever. Have no fear; we do the same with cold and flu season. We have therapeutics. We have vaccines. It's time to move on with our lives. The masks requirements just need to die. Infections are all over the place. They have not curbed the spread.
This is classic "horse has left the barn" territory. And now, this protocol applied to school districts needs to die as well. Even ardent feminists and liberals are unsure about this requirement as its psychological impact is scarring their kids. Jennifer Block's young son had a self-drawing with no nose or mouth, which prompted her to call for a return to reason amid this "COVID and our schools" debate in the pages of The San Francisco Chronicle.
And now, two scientists have joined the chorus of experts who are finally starting to talk sense, though it's still too few and far between. They're in the heart of liberal America. Berkeley, California, schools said that KN95 masks would be required for everyone attending school. They looked at the data. The risks done to kids wearing masks far outweighed the benefits. They were blunt: it's not going to work for a variety of reasons, not least being that every child needs a mask that's custom-fitted and approved by OSHA. Second, kids' faces are too small for this type of mask. Third, even when properly fitted, the mask is a nightmare to wear, even causing bruising among those with approved KN95s (via Newsweek):
The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in the SF Bay Area where we live, announced on Tuesday that it was planning on "transitioning all students and staff" to KN95 respirators. If worn properly, such respirators filter 95 percent of particles the size of those that carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The BUSD has proposed this measure as a means to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep schools open. These respirators would be required for the entire school day, including outdoors during gym and recess.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of respirators is vastly overestimated, and there is scant evidence that they stop community transmission. Moreover, NIOSH-approved respirators are tight, uncomfortable, and can impede breathing. OSHA requires both fit testing and a medical evaluation before workers can wear them. We've all seen images of health care workers with bruised faces from properly worn respirators.
The truth is, the burdens of these masks outweigh their benefits for kids. We need to consider more effective, less harmful interventions as we come together to keep schools open and safe.
We know masks have become a highly contentious issue. But as a physician with a PhD in computational mathematics and a professor of data science, we have read the studies on this topic. We both have children and want them to be safe. But we also don't want them burdened with measures that won't help protect them or their peers. And mandating respirators on kids is out of step with CDC guidance and international norms.
What is the evidence for respirators stopping the spread of covid19? Studies on Influenza provide guidance. Though respirators provide better filtration in perfect laboratory conditions, people who wear them are just as likely to catch flu whether they are wearing a surgical mask or a respirator. Though respirators have higher filtration capabilities, a Cochrane review and an independent metanalysis both revealed there were not clear differences between the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators in preventing infections like Influenza. The Influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 virus are of comparable size and rates of transmission of infection between close contacts are similar.
The good news is that this piece was published on January 24. The school district then backtracked and said the KN95 mask requirement wouldn't be mandatory. Shed your fear, folks. The virus is already here. It's already spread. There's little a mask can do when it's everywhere. Given that COVID is now something we must deal with annually throughout the course of our lives, most people are eventually going to get infected. Just like a ton of people get colds every year. And just like tens of millions contract the flu every year. Everyone is done with this kabuki theater.
And Joe Biden, of all people, should be looking to pivot away from this since more people will soon have died of COVID under him than Trump.