Before we get to the subject of this posting, let's look at some very recent headlines from the mainstream media regarding masks:
All three mainstream media reports refer to a recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC which was published on Friday March 5, 2021. Let's take a closer look at the study itself rather than just heeding the coverage of the study by the media.
Here is the lead page of the study:
The authors of the study looked at the period of time from March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, determining which jurisdictions had mask mandates and in-restaurant dining as sdescribed here:
"Starting in April, 39 states and the District of Columbia (DC) issued mask mandates in 2020. Reducing person-to-person interactions by avoiding nonessential shared spaces, such as restaurants, where interactions are typically unmasked and physical distancing (≥6 ft) is difficult to maintain, can also decrease transmission (2). In March and April 2020, 49 states and DC prohibited any on-premises dining at restaurants, but by mid-June, all states and DC had lifted these restrictions. To examine the association of state-issued mask mandates and allowing on-premises restaurant dining with COVID-19 cases and deaths during March 1–December 31, 2020, county-level data on mask mandates and restaurant reopenings were compared with county-level changes in COVID-19 case and death growth rates relative to the mandate implementation and reopening dates. Mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates 1–20, 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days after implementation. Allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days after reopening, and increases in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 61–80 and 81–100 days after reopening."
The researchers obtained county-level data on state-issued mask mandates and restaurant closures , their effective and expiration dates and the counties to which they applied. Masking and restaurant closures were defined as following:
1.) Mask mandates – were defined as requirements for persons to wear a mask 1) anywhere outside their home or 2) in retail businesses and in restaurants or food establishments
2.) Restaurant closures – were defined as prohibitions on restaurants operating or limiting service to takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery. Allowing restaurants to provide indoor or outdoor on-premises dining was defined as the state lifting a state-issued restaurant closure.
Over the period between March 1, 2020 and December 31,2020, state-issued mask mandates applied to 2,313 or 73.6 percent of the 3,142 counties and during the same study period, states allowed restaurants to reopen for on-premises dining in 3,076 or 97.9 percent of counties.
Now, let's look at the conclusions of the research:
1.) Mask mandates – Mask mandates were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease (p = 0.02) in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, and 1.8 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation. Mask mandates were associated with a 0.7 percentage point decrease in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.0, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation. Daily case and death growth rates before implementation of mask mandates were not statistically different from the reference period.
2.) Restaurant closures – Changes in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates were not statistically significant 1–20 and 21–40 days after restrictions were lifted. Allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with 0.9, 1.2 , and 1.1 percentage point increases in the case growth rate 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after restrictions were lifted. Allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with 2.2 and 3.0 percentage point increases in the death growth rate 61–80 and 81–100 days, respectively, after restrictions were lifted. Daily death growth rates before restrictions were lifted were not statistically different from those during the reference period, whereas significant differences in daily case growth rates were observed 41–60 days before restrictions were lifted.
Here is a table which summarizes the findings for the masking mandate and restaurant dining:
So, basically, the implementation of a mask mandate resulted in a maximum COVID-19 case growth rate of 1.8 percentage points 81 to 100 days after implementation and resulted in a 1.9 percentage point decrease in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 81 to 100 days after implementation. Restaurant on-premises dining resulted in a 1.1 percentage point increase in the COVID-19 case growth rate 81 to 100 days after implementation and a 3.0 percentage point increase in the death growth rate 81 to 100 days after implementation.
Let's close with this quote from the discussion portion of the paper which is different in the .pdf version than the HTML version (my bolds):
"Community mitigation measures can help reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, mask mandates were associated with reductions in COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days, whereas allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in COVID-19 case and death growth rates after 40 days. With the emergence of more transmissible COVID-19 variants, community mitigation measures are increasingly important as part of a larger strategy to decrease exposure to and reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Community mitigation policies, such as state-issued mask mandates and prohibition of on-premises restaurant dining, have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially if implemented with other public health strategies."
As you can see, even the CDC is admitting that the use of mask mandates and closures of restaurants only "have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19". Given the large number of false positive test results from the RT-PCR test that governments are using to define who has been infected and who has not, we can be pretty certain that the small changes in infections and deaths related to COVID-19 are even smaller than what the CDC's research shows.
But, you'd never guess that if all you read was the mainstream media and it shocking headlines, would you?
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