State mask mandates did not help slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a new study by the University of Louisville.
The study, based on CDC data covering multiple seasons, pointed out that 80% of U.S. states mandated masks during the COVID-19 pandemic," Townhall reported.
While "mandates induced greater mask compliance," the researchers said, the mandates and the use of masks "are not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among US states."
"Our findings do not support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates decrease with greater public mask use," the report said.
The researchers found that "masks may promote social cohesion as rallying symbols during a pandemic, but risk compensation can also occur."
Among the risks:
- Prolonged mask use, more than four hours a day,
"promotes facial alkalinization and inadvertently encourages dehydration, which in turn can enhance barrier breakdown and bacterial infection risk."
- British clinicians have reported masks to increase headaches and sweating and decrease cognitive precision.
- By obscuring nonverbal communication, masks interfere with social learning in children.
- Likewise, masks can distort verbal speech and remove visual cues to the detriment of individuals with hearing loss.
The Louisville study found that the growth of COVID cases "was independent of mandates at low and high rates of community spread, and mask use did not predict case growth during the Summer or Fall-Winter waves."
The researchers noted they used two mask metrics to evaluate association with COVID-19 growth rates.
They measured normalized case growth in mandate and non-mandate states at comparable times to quantify the likely effect of mandates; and deconvolving the effect of mask use by examining case growth in states with variable mask use.
Current guidance from the CDC states that masks "are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others" and "studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth."
Recently, the CDC updated its guidance to allow for fully vaccinated individuals to ditch their masks, a revision that has led to several states and companies updating their mask mandates to allow the same.
The first large, randomized controlled trial of its kind showed no statistically significant difference in COVID-19 cases between people who wore masks and those who did not.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control in October indicated that Americans were adhering to mask mandates, but they didn't appear to have slowed or stopped the spread of the coronavirus. And further, it found, mask-wearing has negative effects.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has compiled a page of "Mask Facts" showing that the consensus prior to the coronavirus pandemic was that the effectiveness of mask-wearing by the general public in slowing the spread of a virus is unproven, and there's evidence it does more harm than good.
The most recent CDC guidelines still recommend mask use for anyone 2 years or older in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household. However, in March 2020, the CDC said masks "are usually not recommended" in "non-health care settings."
The same month, the World Health Organization recommended people not wear face masks unless they are sick with COVID-19 or caring for someone who is sick.
"There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program in March 2020.
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