Alexander's Column

About That (Face) Unmasking

"There is no reason to be walking around wearing a mask." —Dr. Anthony Fauci

Mark Alexander · May 29, 2020

My friend Mark Green, Republican representative for Tennessee, pointed me to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine that had piqued his interest. I followed that lead because Mark is, shall I say, at the high mark on the intelligence curve — something I can’t say about most members of Congress. He is a USMA graduate (‘86), a former Army Ranger with the 82nd Airborne Division, holds a graduate degree, and is a medical doctor. He did combat tours in both OEF and OIF as a Special Operations Flight Surgeon assigned to the 160th Special Ops Aviation Regiment.

That is all to say, when Mark suggests the review of a medical report, I’m on it.

The NEJM report in question is “Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era,” which regards the efficacy of requiring all medical staff in hospitals to wear protective masks. I will leave that debate to the medical professionals, though suffice it to say, every physician and nurse among our family and friends believes that masking in hospitals is an important safety measure.

But what in this report should be of interest to everyone regarding the use of masks outside of hospitals is the second paragraph, where the authors note: “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

Feel free to read that again, and then forward it to Virginia Governor Ralph “Blackface” Northam, who has mandated, effective today, that every citizen of his state wear a mask when outside their home. And The Washington Post insists that those refusing to wear masks outside their homes are scoundrels. (Notably, in that WaPo article, there are seven advertisements for grossly overpriced and ineffective masks — one more reason The Patriot Post is certified “ad-free”!)

Task Force expert Dr. Anthony Fauci declared in March, “There is no reason to be walking around wearing a mask. When you are in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel better and might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think it is, and often there are unintended consequences.”

In April, the CDC clarified its position on using cloth masks. Despite the fact the masks being worn by almost all people outside of hospitals are not surgical standard N-95 respirators, which the more recent NEJM report notes “offers little, if any, protection from infection,” the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Bottom line: Feel free to wear a mask, especially if your governor is going to throw you in jail if you don’t. But regardless, if you are symptomatic, have the common decency and courtesy to stay home — to stay away from other people in accordance with the basic CDC guidelines. I learned those guidelines from my first-grade elementary school teacher, Mrs. Howell. Apparently some of Ralph Northam’s constituents did not get that far…

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