Will Joe’s national mask mandate save us from COVID?

By Jane M. Orient, M.D.

Note: Dr. Orient is executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, AAPS.

Does the national mask mandate make you feel safe?

Candidate Joe Biden’s promised plan to control the COVID-19 pandemic featured everybody wearing a mask for 100 days. Former CDC Director Robert Redfield said it might take only four, six or eight weeks (up to 56 days), and later up to 12 weeks (84 days). Now we not only have an Executive Order for mask wearing on federal property and for federal employees and contractors, but the CDC has declared it a federal crime not to wear a mask on public transport or in transportation hubs.

There was no constitutional amendment or law passed by Congress to create this new crime.

Past mask mandates have not stopped the pandemic (see graphic). A CDC study of mask mandates in 10 states claimed that mandates might help, citing a 5.5% decline in the growth rate of hospitalizations. However, they stopped the study in October, just before a huge increase in cases began in those states.

Why aren’t the mandates working? Are the masks inadequate – and should we require double or triple masks? Did people take too many breaths with masks removed to eat or drink? Were people using them improperly? Was it the fault of an unmasked baby or scofflaw? Would aggressive, even violent arrest of the unmasked help?

Mandates tend to get extended or reinstated. What happens in 100 days? Will everyone have to mask up every time the case count crosses an arbitrary threshold? COVID-19 will probably never disappear, and new viruses will emerge.

What if you get a COVID vaccine? There are no exemptions for vaccinated persons. Anthony Fauci said masking and social distancing would continue, probably into 2022. Pfizer Chairman Albert Bourla and World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan say there is no evidence that the vaccines prevent contagion, only that they reduce symptoms if you get infected.

So, are we forever locked into a state of fear and loss of civil liberties? Or will natural immunity, sensible precautions and early treatment bring this chapter to a close? Consider:

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