Retired critical care physician Dr. Ted Noel joined us today. He’s written an article about wearing masks and Covid. Masks have become an article of faith rather than science. The real question is, do properly used surgical masks reduce disease spread in the general public? To say there are almost no data would not be overstating the case. When households with sick kids were examined, even rigorous mask-wearing provided no statistically significant improvement in adult infections.
Let’s put that in plain English. Even if you did everything to protect yourself with surgical masks, even keeping it on when your kid wants to see your face, it might reduce your chance of getting sick, but we can’t prove it. And that’s in a well designed study intended to get a meaningful result. “[H]ousehold use of face masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective for controlling seasonal respiratory disease” (emphasis added).
What about homemade cloth masks? In a study using influenza, masks made from cotton T-shirts “should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals.” They were only one third as effective when worn by the sick person as a surgical mask. If you’re sick, they’re better than nothing, but that’s not much. The CDC says, “Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” Translation: It mighthelp, but we don’t have any data to back that up.
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