Airlines And Unions Push To Extend Mask Requirements, But They’re No Longer Needed

The TSA’s transportation mask rule is set to expire May 11. While there’s no good justification for a federal mask rule once there’s enough vaccine that anyone who wants protection can have it (and the vaccines currently in use in the U.S. even substantially reduce the risk of someone being an asymptomatic carrier of the virus) there almost no chance that this happens.

The CDC language off of which the TSA’s rule is based is in place indefinitely until specifically rescinded or the pandemic is declared over by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

While the federal mask rule may not even be legal, it’s almost certain to be extended.

Sara Nelson, head of AFA-CWA which represents flight attendants at United Airlines and 16 other carriers, wants mask rules extended through end of September. Live and Let’s Fly believes that she wants mask rules to become permanent. In Congressional testimony she compared mask requirements with inflight smoking bans, TSA liquid rules, and requirements to turn off cell phones as restrictions that Americans have learned to live with.

Nelson was a huge supporter of government subsidies for airlines during the pandemic, preferring state support of airlines rather than revenue from customers. Indeed she advocated a ban on leisure travel. Let’s look more closely at the logic of the requirements, however.

  • Initially mask rules were a way for airlines to make customers confident enough to buy tickets. Masks were an inconvenience to a passenger, but knowing everyone else would be masked made the purchase decision easier. JetBlue did it first and others quickly followed.

  • Now airlines see mask rules as a way to convince government to allow travel (arguing that flying becomes less of a transmission risk for Covid-19).

  • Most masks people wear aren’t actually protective. Lufthansa actually requires passengers to wear a useful mask while the U.S. and airlines do not.

  • But vaccines provide incredible protection against the virus – not just against catching it, but in the rare cases someone does, against having serious consequences. And any American 16 years or older who wants a vaccine can get one, becoming largely protected and minimizing virus spread as well. (Children are generally even at less risk than vaccinated adults.)

  • As a general matter those not vaccinated who travel are making a choice to expose themselves. And even if they run into someone that’s infected, and if they pick up the virus, they’re only then reasonably likely to spread it to others who have chosen not to become vaccinated.

    And modest virus spread that may occur no longer poses risk of overwhelming hospitals and compromising care.

I’ve been a huge supporter of masks since the beginning of the pandemic, while recognizing that they’re not panaceas and that most people should be wearing better masks when they travel than they do. When the federal government was still recommending against masking, I argued that flight attendants should be allowed to wear them. I was out ahead of Sara Nelson here. I also plan to continue wearing a mask when I travel during flu season.

However the need for a government mandate for domestic flights should be sunsetting. No doubt it will last longer than it should, because airlines are lobbying for it and union leaders are lobbying for it, and because public health officials are inherently cautious. My hope here is that it doesn’t become permanent, and that the desire of the Biden administration to declare victory over the pandemic will lead to an end to the order – maybe not this summer, but political realities dictate that it will be over before the 2022 midterm elections.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Still not sure what the problem is here. Union members are free to wear a mask for the rest of their lives if they want, as is anyone who thinks they are at risk from a bug and believe a mask protects them from said bug. If masks work, you have nothing to fear from those mouth-breathing anti-maskers. Which only shows this is much more about control/power than it is about “protecting” people. Wear the mask for the rest of your life if you want, but please stop trying to force others to participate in this insanity indefinitely.

  2. so, the airlines were quick to proclaim recirculated air was absolutely did not abet transmission of the virus, but now their employees want us to permanently wear masks?

  3. You can’t bring water or shampoo on the plane without a real reason for like 15 years now.

    Things like this never get lifted.

    But there is always a choice to stay home if you are upset about the pointless rules, whether its make or liquids

  4. I cannot fathom it becoming permanent. FA unions’ current advocacy for it is a pretext to bolster their primary demand: forestalling the return of onboard service. Once airlines override the unions to bring back full onboard service, the unions will drop the (soon-to-be) aesthetic appendage that is mask advocacy.

  5. Even though I am fully vaccinated, I’m happy to continue wearing a mask, especially in an environment where I need to sit in close proximity to people who may not be vaccinated, or purposely won’t get vaccinated.

    The vaccine is not 100% effective. That means one takes a chance. Is it too much to ask for keeping a mask on? No it isn’t. If a smoker with a nicotine addiction has to put up with not smoking, I think putting a mask on for the duration of the flight isn’t a big deal either.

  6. @Too Many – if you are that concerned about vaccines not being good enough (hint: they are friggen excellent) then why not just wear an N95 then to protect yourself from the maskless? You are trying to play the zero sum game.

  7. As somebody who is vaccinated and maybe never will be protected I think think it’s much too talking about removing mask mandates or not. We have huge swaths of people who will choose to not be vaccinated and thus spread will continue. I’m fairly sure that on any given plane I will not be the only passenger who is immune compromised and needs the help of others to provide protection.

  8. As somebody who is vaccinated and maybe never will be protected, I think it’s much too * SOON * to be talking about removing mask mandates or not.

  9. The mask mandate was just a knee jerk reaction with little basis in science. It was just imposed to make people feel safer. Now they want to make it permanent! They say ‘extend’ but they’re really seeking permanence.

  10. @Iolaire McFadden – thank you. this is an argument, and allows for an honest conversation.

    if the proposition is

    – there’s enough people who won’t get vaccinated that the virus remains a risk
    – so people need to keep wearing masks to protect the immunocompromised
    – and vaccinated people need to wear them too because it’s inefficient (or politically hard) to sort who is a risk and who isn’t

    then that should be stated explicitly, and we can have that national discussion.

  11. I have advocated for masks and have worn them everywhere in public. I am fully vaccinated now and don’t mind wearing them for a bit longer but I agree that once everyone has a chance to get the vaccine I shouldn’t have to wear them anymore. People who choose not to get vaccinated will probably ruin it for everyone because it will keep mutating and they will keep wanting us to wear masks and we will have to get booters to keep from getting the mutated virus that spreads because of unvaccinated people. I am sorry for immune-compromised people who for some reason can not be vaccinated but I have immune-compromised people in my family who were advised to get the vaccine, so I don’t think there should be that many, and maybe an N95 should be worn by people who can not get the vaccine. I don’t intend to wear a mask forever.

  12. Several critical factors argue against your position that we’re definitely ready for the sunsetting of mask requirements:

    1. Only 25% of the US population fully vaccinated, and we seem to bit already (and certainly will be) hitting a slow-down in vaccination rates due to vaccine hesitance and refusal. If we are unable to achieve herd immunity by vaccination, significant risks will continue.

    2. New strains have appeared and will continue to appear, and the longer it takes to achieve herd immunity the more that risk increases.

    3. Younger populations are seeing elevated infection rates and more severe infections. We still do not have a good handle on the long term effects and the implications and prevalence of COVID long haulers.

    4. The UK variant certainly has a higher transmission rate and as long as the virus continues to circulate at the rates it has recently, there is continued risk of new mutations – any of which could have adaptations that could overtake or lessen vaccine based resistance.

    I see the point that proper masks must be worn as being critical and a huge factor in the debate about whether or not masks work. Gaiters and bandanas definitely do not cut it, and even many of the ubiquitous light blue paper masks we see are improperly worn, or they’re counterfeit, or not worth the paper they’re made of. IMHO, the defense production act should have been invoked a year ago in order to ramp up US production of higher quality face masks and proper PPE. If we can be assured of getting to a significantly higher percentage of people vaccinated by the middle or end of Summer, I would be more comfortable eliminating mask requirements but we’re not there yet.

  13. @Too Many nothing is 100% risk free. You take a risk driving to the airport. You take a risk flying on a jet. You take a risk swimming in the hotel pool……

  14. @Dave – I never said the vaccine efficacy wasn’t excellent. The issue is that I want to encourage mask use for those who feel they shouldn’t have to, even at the expense of my own comfort because I rather wear a mask than give those antimaskers an excuse not to.

  15. Just to understand the silliness of this debate.
    Airlines have been fighting to control/define allowed pets in the cabin for years which have negatively impacted other passengers and flight crew
    Airlines have almost banned peanuts from flights for most passengers due to allergies of a few.
    Airlines can refuse service if appear drunk, improper attire, body odor, excessive drunkenness or if your carry on is too big – causing issue for flight crew on enforcement.

    All passengers are aware of these rules and comply. Some entitled feel screw the unions and flight crew because they don’t care to sit uncomfortable with a mask for xx hours? People get over yourselves!
    Fly private charter if feel so special. Most carriers are a private company following federal transportation laws and enforcing its own. I hope airlines support their loyal team members (which have suffered over the past year) and continue mask mandates while onboard until the flight crew no longer demands it.

    No smoking policy keeps flight crew healthy and mask will reduce their exposure to germs, virus, etc.
    P.S. the expiration of vaccination hasn’t been determined and would be quite difficult to expire mask mandates inflight and have to reapply it putting strain on the flight crew to enforce it.

  16. @James – See my response to Dave.

    Wear a mask, that’s the message. Even if already vaccinated. Until we can get this pandemic under control, wear a mask. Even if it is an inconvenience to me as I technically don’t need to anymore. Because we have a bunch of people who think masks aren’t needed because they are special. And they don’t believe in vaccinations or masks. So just help out fellow humans and wear a mask.

  17. look at the new infection map in the US, let alone the world. Yes, i’ve had my 2nd pfizer nearly 3 weeks ago, but still, look at the spread. We have vaccine sites shutting down due to lack of demand, that has us about 50% vaccinated. Officially in the USA about 10% tested positived; anonymous lab tests show untested infections are 2x to 3x that. so, if thse 25% has some antibody immunity, plus about half vaccinated, is that the herd immunity that shuts the spread down? so far, our #s are not shut down. Look at Israel. Spread is mostly shut down amongst Jews, not Palestinians, but have your vaccine passport to go to a restaurant, a bar, a hotel, a club, a gym. Otherwise, stay home, they only lifted outdoor mask requirement a week ago. looks they’re a precursor to US vaccine levels.

  18. @Al wrote:
    “ If masks work, you have nothing to fear from those mouth-breathing anti-maskers.”

    Masks (most) don’t protect YOU they protect others from your infected airborne germs.

    This kind of basic ignorance shows/fuels widespread misunderstanding and unrealistic paranoia about COVID.

  19. The argument that we should end the mask mandate just because there are enough vaccines for everybody is deeply flawed. Way too many people in this country are refusing vaccines and the virus is still widespread. Want to get rid of the mask mandate? Then require vaccinations or negative covid tests before people can get on a plane. Pandemic is not going anywhere if people don’t take the vaccine. See what is happening in India right now. See what has been happening in Brazil. Even more obnoxious is that the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers increase the chance of a variant occurring that can get around the vaccine and therefore risks all the progress that has been made with vaccines.

  20. The mask requirement should be extended for a limited period longer.

    Too many unvaccinated people act as those they are vaccinated. But the biggest issue is that Covid-19 is still at pandemic proportions. Until it gets better, a mask requirement should be in place. That could be, in my opinion, for 2 more years.

    Masks are not so bad. People wear flimsy and loose fitting masks such that it’s not much different from a necktie and looser than a condom.

  21. Gary, were a long way from stopping mask mandates. I agree that a permanent mandate may be overkill, but the excellent points raised by rational commenters (not the pro disease types of course) show that we are a long way from it.
    There are a crap ton of new variants coincidentally from the nations where mask wearing was treated as optional (Brazil, India, etc), and there will still be a couple of more variants at the rate of spread we are seeing in India as one example.
    Then of course the anti vax / pro disease crowd will not get vaccinated, leaving a large number of people who wont get vaccinated. Measles is seeing a resurgence thanks to nitwits like that, and theres no reason to believe that their stuoid actions wont help Covid 19 allong as well
    The union may have its own reasons, but Im not going to speculate on those as I have limited information on wahht their actual motives could be.

  22. Of course they’re still needed…and should be required in perpetuity, not only on planes but in all indoor public spaces ( including supermarkets, shopping malls, cinemas, sporting venues). Let’s see how it works over the next decade or two ( and the impact of it on lessening other airborne diseases) rather than make a premature and hasty retreat.

  23. I can see it for a few more weeks until all who want a vaccine are fully vaccinated. So longer than May 11. But after that it’s time to stop restricting vaccinated people. The CDC sends horribly mixed messages when it says everyone needs to be vaccinated on the one hand, but that vaccinated people still have to adhere to almost all the COVID lifestyle restrictions on the other hand. They are serious epidemiologists but are incompetent at human psychology and thus at messaging.

  24. This is exactly the reason many won’t get a vaccine. No payoff. If I still have to wear a mask why bother? There has to be some reward for taking an emergency use vaccine for those of us not afraid of the virus. And that can’t be to protect others because as you all say the mask does that right? I would gladly pay more to fly the first airline to drop mask mandates.

  25. @TooMany said –

    “ I never said the vaccine efficacy wasn’t excellent. The issue is that I want to encourage mask use for those who feel they shouldn’t have to, even at the expense of my own comfort because I rather wear a mask than give those antimaskers an excuse not to.”

    This response needs to be saved in perpetuity because it encapsulates the insanity of people behind mask mandates.

    Let’s break down the “reasoning.”

    1. Vaccines work, but no one who gets the vaccine should have any benefit from so doing.

    2. I don’t even feel the need to address personal choice as it pertains to risk, as a centralized and authoritarian solution is always better, for, you know, reasons.

    3. I have such hatred in my heart for those who don’t toe the party line that I am literally willing to enforce discomfort upon myself if it makes them uncomfortable too.

    That’s it, guys. That’s what’s left of the mask arguments.

    Gary is right this time. Drop the mandate now.

  26. Children under 16 are not eligible to be vaccinated and they fly with their parents.
    There is no herd immunity yet. Masks are still necessary until herd immunity is achieved.

  27. Here’s some science on masks: So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.

    A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control. (Source)
    A Danish randomized controlled trial with 6000 participants, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2020, found no statistically significant effect of high-quality medical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting. (Source)
    A large randomized controlled trial with close to 8000 participants, published in October 2020 in PLOS One, found that face masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.” (Source)
    A February 2021 review by the European CDC found no significant evidence supporting the effectiveness of non-medical and medical face masks in the community. Furthermore, the European CDC advised against the use of FFP2/N95 masks by the general public. (Source)
    A July 2020 review by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth masks against virus infection or transmission. (Source)
    A November 2020 Cochrane review found that face masks did not reduce influenza-like illness (ILI) cases, neither in the general population nor in health care workers. (Source)
    An April 2020 review by two US professors in respiratory and infectious disease from the University of Illinois concluded that face masks have no effect in everyday life, neither as self-protection nor to protect third parties (so-called source control). (Source)
    An article in the New England Journal of Medicine from May 2020 came to the conclusion that cloth face masks offer little to no protection in everyday life. (Source)
    A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal BMJ Open found that cloth masks were penetrated by 97% of particles and may increase infection risk by retaining moisture or repeated use. (Source)
    An August 2020 review by a German professor in virology, epidemiology and hygiene found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks and that the improper daily use of masks by the public may in fact lead to an increase in infections. (Source)
    Development of cases after mask mandates

    In many states, coronavirus infections strongly increased after mask mandates had been introduced. The following charts show the typical examples of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, California and Hawaii. Furthermore, a direct comparison between US states with and without mask mandates indicates that mask mandates have made no difference.

    Mask mandates and coronavirus infections (Source: Yinon Weiss)

    Effectiveness of N95/FFP2 mask mandates

    In January 2021, the German state of Bavaria was one of the first places in the world to mandate N95/FFP2 masks in most public settings. A comparison with other German states, which required cloth or medical masks, indicates that N95/FFP2 masks made no difference.

    Covid cases in Bavaria (FFP2/N95 mandate) vs. Germany overall (ARD/RKI/DaFeid)
    Additional aspects

    There is increasing evidence that the novel coronavirus is transmitted, at least in indoor settings, not only by droplets but also by smaller aerosols. However, due to their large pore size and poor fit, cloth masks cannot filter out aerosols (see video analysis below): over 90% of aerosols penetrate or bypass the mask and fill a medium-sized room within minutes.
    The WHO admitted to the BBC that its June 2020 mask policy update was due not to new evidence but “political lobbying”: “We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny.” (D. Cohen, BBC Medical Corresponent).
    To date, the only randomized controlled trial (RCT) on face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting found no statistically significant benefit (see above). However, three major journals refused to publish this study, delaying its publication by several months.
    An analysis by the US CDC found that 85% of people infected with the new coronavirus reported wearing a mask “always” (70.6%) or “often” (14.4%). Compared to the control group of uninfected people, always wearing a mask did not reduce the risk of infection.
    Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 is just 300 virions (virus particles), whereas a single minute of normal speaking may generate more than 750,000 virions, making cloth face masks unlikely to prevent an infection.
    Japan, despite its widespread use of face masks, experienced its most recent influenza epidemicwith more than 5 million people falling ill just one year ago, in January and February 2019. However, unlike SARS-CoV-2, the influenza virus is easily transmitted by children, too.
    In the US state of Kansas, the 90 counties without mask mandates had lower coronavirus infection rates than the 15 counties with mask mandates. To hide this fact, the Kansas health department tried to manipulate the official statistics and data presentation.
    Contrary to common belief, studies in hospitals found that the wearing of a medical mask by surgeons during operations didn’t reduce post-operative bacterial wound infections in patients.
    During the notorious 1918 influenza pandemic, the use of cloth face masks among the general population was widespread and in some places mandatory, but they made no difference.
    Asian countries with low covid infection rates, most of them neighboring China, benefited not from face masks but mainly from early border closures. This is confirmed by Scandinavian countries Norway, Finland and Denmark, which didn’t introduce mask mandates but closed borders early and saw very low covid infection and death rates, too.
    2. Studies claiming face masks are effective

    Some recent studies argued that cloth face masks are indeed effective against the new coronavirus and could at least prevent the infection of other people. However, most of these studies suffer from poor methodology and sometimes show the opposite of what they claim to show.

    Typically, these studies ignore the effect of other measures, the natural development of infection rates, changes in test activity, or they compare places with different epidemiological conditions. Studies performed in a lab or as a computer simulation often aren’t applicable to the real world.

    An overview:

    A meta-study in the journal Lancet, commissioned by the WHO, claimed that masks “could” lead to a reduction in the risk of infection, but the studies considered mainly N95 respirators in a hospital setting, not cloth masks in a community setting, the strength of the evidence was reported as “low”, and experts found numerous flaws in the study. Professor Peter Jueni, epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, called the WHO study “essentially useless”.
    A study in the journal PNAS claimed that masks had led to a decrease in infections in three global hotspots (including New York City), but the study did not take into account the natural decrease in infections and other simultaneous measures. The study was so flawed that over 40 scientists recommended that the study be withdrawn.
    A US study claimed that US counties with mask mandates had lower Covid infection and hospitalization rates, but the authors had to withdraw their study as infections and hospitalizations increased in many of these counties shortly after the study was published.
    A German study claimed that the introduction of mandatory face masks in German cities had led to a decrease in infections. But the data does not support this claim: in some cities there was no change, in others a decrease, in others an increase in infections (see graph below). The city of Jena was an ‘exception’ only because it simultaneously introduced the strictest quarantine rulesin Germany, but the study did not mention this.
    A Canadian study claimed that countries with mandatory masks had fewer deaths than countries without mandatory masks. But the study compared African, Latin American, Asian and Eastern European countries with very different infection rates and population structures.
    A review by the University of Oxford claimed that face masks are effective, but it was based on studies about SARS-1 and in health care settings, not in community settings.
    A review by members of the lobby group ‘Masks for All’, published in the journal PNAS, claimed that masks are effective as a source control against aerosol transmission in the community, but the review provided no real-world evidence supporting this proposition.
    Mandatory masks in German cities: no relevant impact. (IZA 2020)
    3. Risks associated with face masks

    Wearing masks for a prolonged period of time is not harmless, as the following evidence shows:

    The WHO warns of various “side effects” such as difficulty breathing and skin rashes.
    Tests conducted by the University Hospital of Leipzig in Germany have shown that face masks significantly reduce the resilience and performance of healthy adults.
    A German psychological study with about 1000 participants found “severe psychosocial consequences” due to the introduction of mandatory face masks in Germany.
    The Hamburg Environmental Institute warned of the inhalation of chlorine compounds in polyester masks as well as problems in connection with face mask disposal.
    The European rapid alert system RAPEX has already recalled 70 mask models because they did not meet EU quality standards and could lead to “serious risks”.
    In Germany, two 13-year-old children died suddenly while wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time; autopsies couldn’t exclude CO2 intoxication or a sudden cardiac arrest.
    In China, several children who had to wear a mask during sports classes fainted and died; the autopsies found a sudden cardiac arrest as the probable cause of death.
    In the US, a car driver wearing an N95 (FFP2) mask fainted and crashed into a pole.
    Conclusion

    Cloth face masks in the general population might be effective, at least in some circumstances, but there is currently little to no evidence supporting this proposition. If the coronavirus is indeed transmitted via indoor aerosols, cloth masks are unlikely to be protective. Health authorities should therefore not assume or suggest that cloth face masks will reduce the rate or risk of infection.

  28. I feel the mask don’t work. The air in the planes is suppose to be very safe now.
    If ppl are choosing to fly it’s because they feel confident enough to travel at this point.
    Ppl come on the planes nose not covered. Mask hanging down. Take the mask off for and hour or more to eat and drink. So really, what is the point? Let the passengers decide. If you’re that worried wear your mask or stay home. Let the rest of the world go back to living their normal lives. There is a 99.997 % survival rate for COVID-19!!!! The longer we hide behind these masks the more we compromise our healthy immune systems.
    Again, let the ppl choose. The crew can also decide what they want to do.
    Tired of arguing with ppl over wearing a mask. Do you. Stop worrying about those who feel safe enough not to join in on the mask wagon.

  29. @Too Many: I trust you are also wearing a plastic face shield or goggles and gloves. I also trust you never remove them during flight.

    If not, then what you are claiming is nonsense, particularly since even the NIH says that MASKS DON’T WORK!

    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7680614/

    Stop the insanity.

  30. May 11 is way too soon. But I wouldn’t support a rule making it permanent. However, now that I’ve seen how well masks worked with my little grandchildren (no one has been sick for a year!), I am considering doing what many Asians do: wear them on public transportation. We all have that choice! And I believe almost any mask is worthwhile (I didn’t like the diss-ing tone of this report) — except the lace masks worn by the two Ohio Trumpers that I encountered at a Holiday Inn Express off 95, which only served to make their political point, as well as endanger the older worker who was forced to interact with them while getting their to-go breakfast.

  31. @latergator – children under 16 have less risk from covid-19 than they do from flu after they’ve been vaccinated for it, and less risk than elderly who have been vaccinated against covid-19. in other words risk from covid-19 to children is less than the background risk we accept every day for them.

  32. You seem to be acknowledging that Iolaire has a good point about the immunocompromised. What’s your substantive response? Are you still holding firm to your position that the mask mandate should go once all adults in the United States have had an opportunity to be vaccinated?

  33. @Justine Kirby:

    Did you not read the scientific articles published above?

    Synthesis: MASKS DON’T WORK AT ALL.

    The mandate should be revoked immediately.

  34. @Justine Kirby – I actually don’t think a mask mandate for everyone makes sense to protect the very small number of people who cannot be vaccinated or for whom the vaccine may have limited effectiveness against those who choose not to be vaccinated, I’m saying though that if someone wants to make that argument at least it’s coherent and should do so explicitly.

  35. @John – thanks for showing everyone the twisted logic you’ve made for yourself. It’s all about your own health, but not others around you it seems.

    If I am vaccinated, I have a reduced chance of catching COVID-19. But it still can happen. I personally know of a friend who has been infected twice; once prior to vaccination, and again after his 2nd shot. Pretty simple reason right there to continue wearing masks.

    If I do catch it and am asymptomatic, then I am hoping my efforts reduce the spread, because being asymptomatic means I won’t even realize I am spreading it.

    The purpose of wearing the mask is to help prevent yourself from spreading coronavirus. But hey, you’re so self important that you’re able to twist yourself into believing it doesn’t work; despite plenty of studies indicating wearing masks do.

    Good luck in life… there’s no sense talking sense to someone who can’t comprehend basic critical thinking and care for other people.

  36. @1KBrad – You do realize that the article you linked is a MEDICAL HYPOTHESIS. It’s clearly labeled as such.

    It is NOT the same level of detail and quality as the numerous other studies and reports that have determined that facemasks ARE EFFECTIVE.

    Please don’t try to take 1 single hypothesis/opinion and counter the overwhelming evidence contrary to what’s been peer reviewed and published.

    This guy is basically falling into the Wakefield camp of doctors (anti-vax).

  37. @1KBrad – BTW, the author of the article is a physiologist. The guy’s specialty is NOT related to infectious disease transmission (epidemiologist), or a virologist, or any other medical doctor that would be directly experienced in handling infectious diseases.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/baruch-vainshelboim-5591b532/

    So the credibility of the author and his position goes further down the scale.

    Here’s an article citing numerous studies confirming the efficacy of masks:
    https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/media/674/open

    Please read those instead; for anyone who keeps insisting masks don’t work.

  38. @Too Many:

    Yet the NIH saw fir to publish it. Yeah, must be garbage.

    Want to try: cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data

  39. Has anyone else noticed that TooMany hasn’t once addressed anyone’s substantive point, but that he is very comfortable calling people names?

    This is the typical doomer, people.

  40. Seen today: maskless a$$hole wearing T-shirt printed with *Unvaccinated—not buying into Covid hoax*. I had such a strong urge to pound his face in but I’m not violent. Just sharing part of my day…

  41. Listen up, folks. Here’s the deal. I’m going to eliminate the virus, but I need your help. We all need to do our part masking up, so Kam and I can claim victory against this deadly disease. What’s that, Gary? You don’t think you need to mask up because you already got the vaccine? C’mon, man. Follow the science, you dog-faced pony soldier.

  42. Here’s the science, which you are obviously oblivious to: So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.

    A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control. (Source)
    A Danish randomized controlled trial with 6000 participants, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2020, found no statistically significant effect of high-quality medical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting. (Source)
    A large randomized controlled trial with close to 8000 participants, published in October 2020 in PLOS One, found that face masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.” (Source)
    A February 2021 review by the European CDC found no significant evidence supporting the effectiveness of non-medical and medical face masks in the community. Furthermore, the European CDC advised against the use of FFP2/N95 masks by the general public. (Source)
    A July 2020 review by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth masks against virus infection or transmission. (Source)
    A November 2020 Cochrane review found that face masks did not reduce influenza-like illness (ILI) cases, neither in the general population nor in health care workers. (Source)
    An April 2020 review by two US professors in respiratory and infectious disease from the University of Illinois concluded that face masks have no effect in everyday life, neither as self-protection nor to protect third parties (so-called source control). (Source)
    An article in the New England Journal of Medicine from May 2020 came to the conclusion that cloth face masks offer little to no protection in everyday life. (Source)
    A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal BMJ Open found that cloth masks were penetrated by 97% of particles and may increase infection risk by retaining moisture or repeated use. (Source)
    An August 2020 review by a German professor in virology, epidemiology and hygiene found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks and that the improper daily use of masks by the public may in fact lead to an increase in infections. (Source)

    Development of cases after mask mandates

    In many states, coronavirus infections strongly increased after mask mandates had been introduced. The following charts show the typical examples of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, California and Hawaii. Furthermore, a direct comparison between US states with and without mask mandates indicates that mask mandates have made no difference.

    Mask mandates and coronavirus infections (Source: Yinon Weiss)
    Effectiveness of N95/FFP2 mask mandates

    In January 2021, the German state of Bavaria was one of the first places in the world to mandate N95/FFP2 masks in most public settings. A comparison with other German states, which required cloth or medical masks, indicates that N95/FFP2 masks made no difference.
    Covid cases in Bavaria (FFP2/N95 mandate) vs. Germany overall (ARD/RKI/DaFeid)
    Additional aspects

    There is increasing evidence that the novel coronavirus is transmitted, at least in indoor settings, not only by droplets but also by smaller aerosols. However, due to their large pore size and poor fit, cloth masks cannot filter out aerosols (see video analysis below): over 90% of aerosols penetrate or bypass the mask and fill a medium-sized room within minutes.
    The WHO admitted to the BBC that its June 2020 mask policy update was due not to new evidence but “political lobbying”: “We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny.” (D. Cohen, BBC Medical Corresponent).
    To date, the only randomized controlled trial (RCT) on face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting found no statistically significant benefit (see above). However, three major journals refused to publish this study, delaying its publication by several months.
    An analysis by the US CDC found that 85% of people infected with the new coronavirus reported wearing a mask “always” (70.6%) or “often” (14.4%). Compared to the control group of uninfected people, always wearing a mask did not reduce the risk of infection.
    Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 is just 300 virions (virus particles), whereas a single minute of normal speaking may generate more than 750,000 virions, making cloth face masks unlikely to prevent an infection.
    Japan, despite its widespread use of face masks, experienced its most recent influenza epidemicwith more than 5 million people falling ill just one year ago, in January and February 2019. However, unlike SARS-CoV-2, the influenza virus is easily transmitted by children, too.
    In the US state of Kansas, the 90 counties without mask mandates had lower coronavirus infection rates than the 15 counties with mask mandates. To hide this fact, the Kansas health department tried to manipulate the official statistics and data presentation.
    Contrary to common belief, studies in hospitals found that the wearing of a medical mask by surgeons during operations didn’t reduce post-operative bacterial wound infections in patients.
    During the notorious 1918 influenza pandemic, the use of cloth face masks among the general population was widespread and in some places mandatory, but they made no difference.
    Asian countries with low covid infection rates, most of them neighboring China, benefited not from face masks but mainly from early border closures. This is confirmed by Scandinavian countries Norway, Finland and Denmark, which didn’t introduce mask mandates but closed borders early and saw very low covid infection and death rates, too.

    2. Studies claiming face masks are effective

    Some recent studies argued that cloth face masks are indeed effective against the new coronavirus and could at least prevent the infection of other people. However, most of these studies suffer from poor methodology and sometimes show the opposite of what they claim to show.

    Typically, these studies ignore the effect of other measures, the natural development of infection rates, changes in test activity, or they compare places with different epidemiological conditions. Studies performed in a lab or as a computer simulation often aren’t applicable to the real world.

    An overview:

    A meta-study in the journal Lancet, commissioned by the WHO, claimed that masks “could” lead to a reduction in the risk of infection, but the studies considered mainly N95 respirators in a hospital setting, not cloth masks in a community setting, the strength of the evidence was reported as “low”, and experts found numerous flaws in the study. Professor Peter Jueni, epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, called the WHO study “essentially useless”.
    A study in the journal PNAS claimed that masks had led to a decrease in infections in three global hotspots (including New York City), but the study did not take into account the natural decrease in infections and other simultaneous measures. The study was so flawed that over 40 scientists recommended that the study be withdrawn.
    A US study claimed that US counties with mask mandates had lower Covid infection and hospitalization rates, but the authors had to withdraw their study as infections and hospitalizations increased in many of these counties shortly after the study was published.
    A German study claimed that the introduction of mandatory face masks in German cities had led to a decrease in infections. But the data does not support this claim: in some cities there was no change, in others a decrease, in others an increase in infections (see graph below). The city of Jena was an ‘exception’ only because it simultaneously introduced the strictest quarantine rulesin Germany, but the study did not mention this.
    A Canadian study claimed that countries with mandatory masks had fewer deaths than countries without mandatory masks. But the study compared African, Latin American, Asian and Eastern European countries with very different infection rates and population structures.
    A review by the University of Oxford claimed that face masks are effective, but it was based on studies about SARS-1 and in health care settings, not in community settings.
    A review by members of the lobby group ‘Masks for All’, published in the journal PNAS, claimed that masks are effective as a source control against aerosol transmission in the community, but the review provided no real-world evidence supporting this proposition.

    Mandatory masks in German cities: no relevant impact. (IZA 2020)
    3. Risks associated with face masks

    Wearing masks for a prolonged period of time is not harmless, as the following evidence shows:

    The WHO warns of various “side effects” such as difficulty breathing and skin rashes.
    Tests conducted by the University Hospital of Leipzig in Germany have shown that face masks significantly reduce the resilience and performance of healthy adults.
    A German psychological study with about 1000 participants found “severe psychosocial consequences” due to the introduction of mandatory face masks in Germany.
    The Hamburg Environmental Institute warned of the inhalation of chlorine compounds in polyester masks as well as problems in connection with face mask disposal.
    The European rapid alert system RAPEX has already recalled 70 mask models because they did not meet EU quality standards and could lead to “serious risks”.
    In Germany, two 13-year-old children died suddenly while wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time; autopsies couldn’t exclude CO2 intoxication or a sudden cardiac arrest.
    In China, several children who had to wear a mask during sports classes fainted and died; the autopsies found a sudden cardiac arrest as the probable cause of death.
    In the US, a car driver wearing an N95 (FFP2) mask fainted and crashed into a pole.

    Conclusion

    Cloth face masks in the general population might be effective, at least in some circumstances, but there is currently little to no evidence supporting this proposition. If the coronavirus is indeed transmitted via indoor aerosols, cloth masks are unlikely to be protective. Health authorities should therefore not assume or suggest that cloth face masks will reduce the rate or risk of infection.

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