A sign in multiple languages encourages citizens to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Portland, Maine. Photo: AP
health

What's with the confusion over masks?

26 Comments
By ANDREW SELSKY

A lot of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus comes down to a seemingly simple concept: Wearing a mask.

But the issue has proven a thorny one. Health authorities have changed their guidance on who should wear masks and when to wear them. This has led to some confusion and even suspicion.

But since the coronavirus first appeared, authorities have gained a better understanding of how it spreads and how masks can help stop that spread.

Here's a look at how what we know about masks has changed, and how government officials are increasingly getting behind the idea of mandating the use of masks.

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long advised people to wear masks because they help prevent people who are infected — whether they know it or not — from spreading the coronavirus.

But last week, the CDC added a new reason: masks can also protect wearers who are not infected, though to a lesser degree.

The agency referred to a study led by Japanese researchers that found masks block about 60% of the amount of virus that comes out of an infected person. When an uninfected person wearing a mask is near an infected person who isn't wearing one, the amount of virus the uninfected person inhaled fell by up to 50%.

But when BOTH people are wearing masks, that produced the best result. The decline in virus particles reaching the second person was close to 70%.

So, if everyone wears a mask when social distancing is not feasible, the infection rate will be cut, experts say.

A study done in Denmark, published Wednesday in Annals of Internal Medicine, seemed to question whether and to what extent masks protect the wearer. The study had a number of flaws, however, as the researchers acknowledged. For example, study participants who were supposed to wear masks sometimes didn’t. And the work was done at a time when not much coronavirus was spreading in Denmark – meaning there wasn’t a lot of data to draw conclusions from.

Either way, experts say masks, while helpful, are not perfect. Keeping a distance, being in well-ventilated areas, and washing hands are also important ways to reduce risk.

HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THEY'VE SAID BEFORE?

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted on Feb. 29: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus"

But today, Adams has a different message pinned to the top of his Twitter account.

“When we can't stay six feet away from others, please, I'm begging you, wear a face covering,” Adams says in the videotaped July 2 tweet.

And in July, the CDC stressed that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, particularly when everyone wears them.

Similarly, the World Health Organization early on had recommended against mask-wearing for the general public, saying they might lead to a false sense of security and that people who didn’t know how to use them properly could infect themselves.

The World Health Organization changed its advice in June, and now says people should wear them when they can’t be socially distant.

WHAT ARE THE FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS ON MASKS?

In the United States, there are none. The CDC has made only recommendations.

And the attitude from the White House has been casual at best. Before the election, President Donald Trump often ridiculed his then Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, for wearing one whenever he was out in public. The president also held rallies that brought together thousands of supporters, most of them not wearing masks.

Biden, now president-elect, has said repeatedly that there should be a nationwide mask mandate. He has also promised to ask every governor to impose mask rules. For those who refuse, he’s vowed to go around them to seek similar mandates at the county or local level until the entire country is covered.

Some other countries have already mandated mask use, from requiring them everywhere in public to using them on public transportation and in stores.

HOW ARE U.S. STATES HANDLING THE SITUATION?

It's a mix. As of Tuesday, 36 states have some type of mask mandate.

Republican governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Utah — all states that are being hit hard — have recently reversed course and required at least limited mask use. Others have extended or expanded earlier orders.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds cast some doubt Tuesday on the science behind masks even as she imposed a limited mask rule, noting that neighboring states with mask mandates have seen rising numbers of cases, although not as severely as Iowa.

“If you look, you can find whatever you want to support wherever you are at,” she said.

In California, a more stringent mask mandate took effect on Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said residents will be required to cover up outdoors, with limited exceptions.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


26 Comments
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds cast some doubt Tuesday on the science behind masks

Another victory for freedumb.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

A senior official at the World Health Organization says people in Europe could avoid lockdowns if nearly everyone wears a mask in places where social distancing is difficult.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201120_02/

Not much more left to say.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Well, this is how science works, authorities should recommend things according to the best available science, and if new evidence contradicts what was thought before then the recommendations should also change.

At the beginning of the pandemic the situation was not the same as now, and the knowledge was very incomplete. Asymptomatic carriers were not considered especially dangerous, other respiratory diseases were not stopped importantly by using masks and spreading was not rampant in the general population. Now we know better and there are no longer shortage of masks to be used.

Still there will always be people that cannot accept change, they will endlessly go about how "there is no experimental evidence" or how mask are not effective according to someone's opinion (not data). At this point it is no longer acceptable to have this position. Masks help, so is keeping your distance as much as possible and washing your hands and face.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Weird how 'science' shows lockdowns don't help reduce mortality rates so what are masks going to do:

Https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S258953702030208X

I mean there are piles of this that's ignored, actual scientists are tearing their hair out over the political measures being implemented:

https://mobile.twitter.com/FatEmperor/status/1329360718790094849

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long advised people to wear masks because they help prevent people who are infected — whether they know it or not — from spreading the coronavirus.

But......if these masks are ‘supposed to’ prevent the spread of the virus and all people in the US are being made to wear them, why were there 130,000 new cases in the US yesterday? Furthermore, of the 130,000 new cases how many of them are regular mask wearers? It would seem that masks do little more than line the pockets of the manufacturers.

A little over a decade ago during the SARS outbreak the WHO released an article about masks. It stated that, for a face mask to be effective against a virus it must be a 12x surgical mask and changed every 20 minutes. Now, wearing a mask is ‘supposed to be’ the be all and end all of stopping the spread of this virus. It all seems like BS to me.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Weird how 'science' shows lockdowns don't help reduce mortality rates so what are masks going to do:

What is the point in linking to a study where the conclusions are very different from what you write?

full lockdowns (RR=2.47: 95%CI: 1.08–5.64) and reduced country vulnerability to biological threats (i.e. high scores on the global health security scale for risk environment) (RR=1.55; 95%CI: 1.13–2.12) were significantly associated with increased patient recovery rates.

What you need to understand is that this study only looks for associations, its methodology do not allow for conclusions about what measures are effective or not because it does not weight every variable independently and analyze the weight of each measure by itself, that is a huge amount of work that requires validating the methodology first before applying it to this data, understandably this was not done.

More simply, this study do not even pretend to compare the value of the use of masks in a country with very high adherence and airtight borders and another with continuos population movement and insufficient hospital beds, it just counts list the factors on each country and see if there is a difference in how the disease progressed when separating the countries between those that did or not have that factor.

Science is not decided by single reports, specially not by exploratory ones, they just become a part of the evidence.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

But......if these masks are ‘supposed to’ prevent the spread of the virus and all people in the US are being made to wear them, why were there 130,000 new cases in the US yesterday? Furthermore, of the 130,000 new cases how many of them are regular mask wearers? It would seem that masks do little more than line the pockets of the manufacturers.

If you don't know how many are mask wearers why do you assume that masks are not useful? How do you know that without masks there would be 300K cases? to what are you comparing this number to conclude lack of efficacy? Every measure has value, and no single measure is ever 100% effective by itself, if you want to say that something is useless you need much more than proving it is not perfect, you need evidence that say that no reduction at all was observed.

A little over a decade ago during the SARS outbreak the WHO released an article about masks. It stated that, for a face mask to be effective against a virus it must be a 12x surgical mask and changed every 20 minutes.

A reference is necessary for this, it would not be the first time something is grossly misrepresented, sometimes is another organization or person who said that, other times what is being said is completely different (and it was a recommendation for the best option in the hospital environment) sometimes is not even something anybody ever said.

Even so, the best available evidence right now, about a different virus that behaves in a very different way indicates very strongly that masks are an important part of the measures that can reduce transmission. To say this is not true you need more than something more than 10 years old about a different pathogen.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Sour grapes, Hustler?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The reason is simple, in today's society there are no norms, we do what we want.

Any change is slow and only after research and 10 essays and 10 experiment proving why with rock solid proof and iron clad data. Must be spoon fed to us, without any individual responsibility.

We think we know more from the internet but in reality we only interact with like-minded individuals and this in essence tunnel visions us.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is difficult to respect the medical experts and agencies (CDC, WHO), when they changed their guidance on whether to wear a mask or not so many times. Literally around 3-4 times or more. It is good that Japan Today listed some of the medical experts changing their narratives, but I assure you there are several more examples of this.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

In California, a more stringent mask mandate took effect on Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said residents will be required to cover up outdoors, with limited exceptions.

Yeah, and he was caught having an indoor dinner party, with 12 people sitting close together indoors without masks. The guests included 2 medical experts.

And lets not forget when Faucci was not wearing his mask and not social distancing at the baseball stadium.

Such hypocrites!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Raw Beer

Seeing as you told us this pandemic is over just before record numbers of cases and deaths were recorded worldwide, do you think masks are useful?

I’m guessing you don’t.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yeah, CASES are going up.

Masks might provide some benefit, but not as much as vitamin D. But nobody is talking about that.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Masks might provide some benefit, but not as much as vitamin D. But nobody is talking about that.

Which studies are you basing this conclusion upon? Which data?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah, CASES are going up.

Deaths are going up too.

You seem to avoid including this extremely important detail. Are the death figures false and is there a conspiracy theory behind it?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wearing masks, washing hands frequently and social distancing help to stop the spread of the virus.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But nobody has a problem with the experts and leaders not following their own recommendations or orders?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Yeah, CASES are going up.

Deaths are going up too.

Yeah, some places that did not have many deaths in the spring are getting them now. Places that had a large wave in the spring generally do not have many deaths now. So it does appear like this "pandemic" is approaching the end.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Yeah, some places that did not have many deaths in the spring are getting them now. Places that had a large wave in the spring generally do not have many deaths now. So it does appear like this "pandemic" is approaching the end.

The opposite, according to the health experts and their data. It is understandable that only people that have other interests in mind different to public health cannot grasp the situation and end up being wrong. For them the pandemic has been "approaching the end" since 6 months ago.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah, some places that did not have many deaths in the spring are getting them now. Places that had a large wave in the spring generally do not have many deaths now

What’a going on on the UK, France, Spain and Italy? They had big waves of deaths in spring and are going through another big wave.

Which countries are you talking about?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But nobody has a problem with the experts and leaders not following their own recommendations or orders?

They entirely should follow their own recommendations.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But nobody has a problem with the experts and leaders not following their own recommendations or orders?

@Raw Beer, Exactly, it shows they don't believe in their own orders. Makes you really wonder what is going on behind the curtain.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

But nobody has a problem with the experts and leaders not following their own recommendations or orders?

@Raw Beer, Exactly, it shows they don't believe in their own orders. Makes you really wonder what is going on behind the curtain.

What do you think is going on behind the curtain?

How exciting!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

it shows they don't believe in their own orders.

Either that or they do believe them, and feel a sense of entitlement whereby they don't need to obey them. I'm curious how you determined it's definitely what you stated, and definitely not what I just put forward. Or did you only come up with one possibility, and find you were creative enough to think of other possibilities, therefore deciding yours must be the only possibility?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And lets not forget when Faucci was not wearing his mask and not social distancing at the baseball stadium.

Scandalous!

A photograph of Fauci with his mask lowered, sitting between two mask wearers, one of them his wife, the three of them surrounded by empty stadium seats. Fauci has explained it like this:

"I had my mask around my chin, I had taken it down. I was totally dehydrated and I was drinking water trying to rehydrate myself. And by the way, I was negative Covid literally the day before.

So I guess if people want to make a thing of that, I wear a mask all the time when I’m outside. To pull it down, to take some sips of water, and put it back up again, I guess if people want to make something about that, they can."

Idiots, of course, are not capable of understanding the difference between keeping the mask on to cover the face almost all the time, and simply not wearing one at all. But there is a huge difference, and that difference is an important part of the reason that Fauci has not yet contracted COVID 19, while multiple Trump family members have been infected and, being slow learners, continue to get infected, along with dozens of likeminded guideline-flouting friends and officials who have been around them. No patient zero in the White House cluster has been identified, but it hardly matters any more as everyone seems to have been intent on catching and spreading it anyway.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Either that or they do believe them, and feel a sense of entitlement whereby they don't need to obey them.

Those rules are just for controlling the people, rather than health, and it id all part of the coming great reset.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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