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Should you wear a mask on a plane, bus or train when there's no mandate?

29 Comments
By Daniel Merino

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29 Comments

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"Should you wear a mask on a plane, bus or train when there's no mandate?"

If one needs a government rule or recommendation to protect their own health and/or the health of others...well, any rational comment beyond this point might offend too many of those very people.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

I wear a mask on public transport but if I'm out walking, I take it off. It's okay in winter but come summer, wearing a mask outside in that blistering heat is impossible. I can't breathe.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Should you wear a mask on a plane, bus or train when there's no mandate?

I do!

But sometimes, when I have to work on a weekend morning shift, the first train I take is almost empty, and I can choose a seat with nobody around me.

Then I take off my mask.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Your face, your mouth, your breath... your choice.

Nothing in the article contradicts this, only that some people want to have objective scientific basis for their decision and not just choose what they find more convenient.

Humans have survived thousands of years without masks.

And without antibiotics, or surgery, or hygiene. That does absolutely nothing to contradict the fact that they are all perfectly well demonstrated health care interventions that make survival easier.

Second, you may want to consider harms associated behind masking.

The article is talking about mask wearing on vehicles, problems with reading emotions, verbal communication by hearing impaired or small children (including groups where the masks are recommended not to be used) is not exactly a counter argument of weight enough to offset the clear benefit from wearing masks.

The problem may be the source, that has a very clear bias against COVID measures of every nature, have been found to repeat antivaxxer disinformation and have extremely deficient methods to present information (ignoring the best available evidence and published scientific criticisms of the sources they arbitrarily choose to present). I would recommend better go to properly weighted meta-analysis for much more reliable information.

When indeed?

That is easy, when the risk of COVID becomes the same level as the rest of the respiratory infections, this may not be so easy to decide but it is a clear limit, higher risks meaning special measures, equal risks normal measures.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

One of the things about humanity that this pandemic has taught me - or more accurately, reinforced - is just how unmitigatedly self-centred some people can be, insisting on their rights to some pretty perverse ideas of “freedom” even when their self-centredness may result in causing harm to others. Given that not wearing a mask may cause you to transmit the coronavirus to others around you, especially in a confined space such as the cabin of a plane, you wouldn’t think it was too much to ask to cover up for a few hours. Except, apparently, it is too much to ask.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Masks aren't a 'free' strategy

Titanium dioxide particles frequently present in face masks intended for general use require regulatory control

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-06605-w

There are going to be so many problems from them

Mask [microplastics] were detected in the nasal mucus of mask wearers suggests they can be inhaled while wearing a mask.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0269749121013300

Considering how little they do against the coronavirus (if anything) the balance of evidence seems to favour not wearing them

0 ( +9 / -9 )

If you are ill or have a weak immune system then probably yes. If you are healthy and vaccinated then maybe not.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

My immediate family, and I decided to continue to wear a mask . . . it is safer for our health.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Your life your choice!

If you are concerned wear one if not don’t….BUT don’t force people who don’t want to to do so just to please your own phobias!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

No.

Having had the latest variant ( mild symptoms) then I would rather breathe freely

-1 ( +18 / -19 )

Humans have survived thousands of years without masks.

-1 ( +15 / -16 )

It depends on the weather. Sometimes i like wearing it but if it's too hot or hard to breath, i prefer not to wear any.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Exactly how effective are the masks and face covers we are wearing? Way back when I was a young man serving in the Army, I was assigned to the headquarters of the Army’s Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare Unit.

In this unit the Army played with substances so lethal that they are beyond imagining. If you think nukes are the most dangerous weapons ever created, you are greatly mistaken. The Army developed equipment to protect against these and other agents, many of which were viral. Some of these are like spacesuits, and even under 3 layers of impregnated and pressurized fabrics and substances, “things” still got through.

An N95 mask is 95% effective against particles 300nm or larger when worn properly and following proper mask protocol. Protocol means washing your hands with strong soaps the way doctors and nurses are trained. With clean hands the mask is removed from its package and handled by its elastics, with the nose bridge pinched once to fit around the nose properly. If you remove the mask, or even touch it afterwards, it must be discarded and replaced. A mask should be changed hourly.

A coronavirus is 60nm, too small to be stopped by any mask on the market. True, the viruses are carried in water particles which are larger than 300nm, but unless you are changing your mask hourly, viruses will get through. Tests were conducted in Denmark and Bangladesh which claimed masks were shown to be effective, but efficacy was around 15%, and even this figure was optimistic, being several times higher than previous clinical mask studies going back 60 years.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

What mandate? In Japan it is a personal choice. I have only worn them in places where I really have to be at and I'm verbally told by the staff to wear one (and even then the 'chin guard' fit has been sufficient), on airplanes or Shinkansen I always make sure I have a drink so as not to use one.

I abhor masks, it is not normal to have something covering your breathing holes and they give me claustrophobia; I will never comply with this circus.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

A lot of the reason for wearing a mask is to protect others . . . Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explained how masks can protect the wearer, too

The final consideration when deciding to wear a mask isn’t about you. Doing so can protect others.

Case numbers are low for now, and therefore so is the risk of catching or transmitting the coronavirus. But it is not zero; some places have higher risk than others, and new variants can come on quickly. As the team writes, all new variants that spread widely – so-called variants of concern – are likely to be highly transmissible.

The person next to you on the plane might not be wearing a mask and, as it stands, that is their choice to make. If you want to lower your own chances of catching or spreading the coronavirus, there are still a number of reasons to wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask.

I fear we have jumped right into an area that is transparently pandemic kabuki.

First, so that people can make informed decisions, I wish to refer everyone to a link to the Cochran Library, a library collection by researcher from 190 countries, put together in a network to gather and summarize the best evidence to help people make informed choices about medical treatment. Their main site is at https://www.cochrane.org. Their COVID resource is located at https://www.cochrane.org/our-evidence/coronavirus-covid-19-resources . And their specialty page for COVID infection control and prevention measures is located at https://www.cochranelibrary.com/collections/doi/SC000040/full .

Second, you may want to consider harms associated behind masking.

Here is a link to a collection of studies addressing harms associated with face masking: https://brownstone.org/articles/the-mask-studies-you-should-know/ .

Contained in The Brownstone Institute's article, entitled The Mask Studies You Should Know, 21 April, 2022. See half-way down the page, the 14 links below Harms of Masking.

I also must repeat and repost an earlier comment over this most obvious kabuki.

I recall the words of Steve Templeton, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at IUSM-Terre Haute, back this past February, in pondering the future of microbial fear and the appearance of safety:

Sociologist Frank Furedi wrote in his book How Fear Works:

Although risk is historically defined as exposure to the probability of loss, harm or some kind of misfortune, through its current expanded usage it has been reinterpreted as the possibility of such adversity. The shift in meaning from probability to possibility has led to a fundamental revision in the conceptualization of risk.

In other words, the importance of the mere possibility that something bad might happen has replaced the consideration of the probability it might happen. Thus, if the probability of something bad happening is very low, it doesn’t help to point that out, because it is still possible, and you will be considered irresponsible if you do not display the socially acceptable behaviors that will (in others’ minds) mitigate the already low risk to zero (which is, in most cases, still not possible).

He then posed the following questions:

As the burden of proof has shifted away from evidence of their efficacy, and more towards social responsibility, the problem of mandates and restrictions is once again when to stop. Politicians and public health officials cannot simply abolish measures when so many have faithfully complied with every edict and credit for their perceived success is due. Aren’t there other dangerous respiratory illnesses? Won’t COVID become seasonal and endemic, yet still kill vulnerable people? If the higher risk associated with COVID infection in a small number of people is everyone’s problem, when does it stop being everyone’s problem?

https://stemplet74.substack.com/p/our-appearance-of-safety-culture?s=w

When indeed?

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

With respect, I referred readers to the 14 studies and articles behind the section, Risks of Masks, for time management purposes. The 14 include:

No, you referred readers to a single site, well known for making invalid collections of "evidence" and misrepresenting the actual scientific consensus in order to discredit any and all measures used against COVID. This means you did not made a personal search and choose the best studies related to the topic but used what this extremely biased site choose to present, this means you ended up promoting a pseudoscientific view not shared by the scientific consensus.

I am not sure that the above 14 studies and articles fall within a reasoned "weighted meta-analysis." But they appear, at least at glance, to be reasoned and authoritative sufficiently for readers to consider during a reasonable debate on topic.

One, that is the whole purpose of the institute, present things as if they were authoritative or representative of the current scientific views, when in fact they are not. And you got it backwards, contrary opinions are not simply dismissed as disinformation but well characterized bias and repeating of false information from a source is what helps putting a terribly invalid collection into context and understand why such deficient presentation of evidence was made. The Brownstone institute and the Great Barrington Declaration are well known sources of disinformation.

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-spiritual-child-of-the-great-barrington-declaration-promotes-antivaccine-misinformation/

Promoting falsehoods puts in risk the health and lives of people and should not be supported, even if just because you ignored an apparently respectable source is anything but.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

@virusrex:

Let's see. I have from you: "invalid," "misrepresenting," "discredit," "biased," "pseudoscientific," "false," "deficient," "disinformation," and "falsehoods." All that "risk the health and lives of people."

Did I leave anything out?

When you say that someone "must choose the best studies," whenever approaching the topic of Covid, public health and the attitudes associated with it by its purveyors, in a reasonable public forum, it is all too apparent that the "best" - to you - means simply not disagreeing with you and your worldviews, or else they must be summarily disgarded - by you - in argumentative missives, such as above.

Fortunate that JT readers are intelligent and astute enough to make up their own minds.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

@ Virusrex:

Second, you may want to consider harms associated behind masking.

The article is talking about mask wearing on vehicles, problems with reading emotions, verbal communication by hearing impaired or small children (including groups where the masks are recommended not to be used) is not exactly a counter argument of weight enough to offset the clear benefit from wearing masks

With respect, I referred readers to the 14 studies and articles behind the section, Risks of Masks, for time management purposes. The 14 include:

CEREBRAL CORTEX: Reading Covered Faces;

Masking Emotions: Face Masks Impair How We Read Emotions;

Making pre-school children wear masks is bad public health;

Little evidence for facemask use in children against COVID-19;

Wearing N95, Surgical, and Cloth Face Masks Compromises the Perception of Emotion;

Face Masks Impair Basic Emotion Recognition;

Facial masks affect emotion recognition in the general population and individuals with autistic traits;

Impact of Face Masks on Audiovisual Word Recognition in Young Children with Hearing Loss During the Covid-19 Pandemic;

Face masks reduce emotion-recognition accuracy and perceived closeness;

Pilot study on burden of fungal contamination in face masks: need for better mask hygiene in the COVID-19 era;

Short report on the effects of SARS-CoV-2 face protective equipment on verbal communication;

Titanium dioxide particles frequently present in face masks intended for general use require regulatory control;

Need for assessing the inhalation of micro(nano)plastic debris shed from masks, respirators, and home-made face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic;

Use of face mask by blood donors during the COVID-19 pandemic: Impact on donor hemoglobin concentration: A bane or a boon.

I am not sure that the above 14 studies and articles fall within a reasoned "weighted meta-analysis." But they appear, at least at glance, to be reasoned and authoritative sufficiently for readers to consider during a reasonable debate on topic. Contrary opinions of merit must not be dismissed frivolously as disinformation.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Purple C-Clamp:

Yeah, they’re incredible, aren’t they? As in literally, unbelievable.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Masks aren't a 'free' strategy

When your argument is that somewhen in the future problems "will" appear (even if people have wore masks for most of the day since a long time ago without those problems appearing) that means you are recognizing you have no evidence of problems, meanwhile masks do prevent problems according to the best available science. Your personal opinion is not enough to counter the weight of the scientific and medical institutions that clearly support the value of masks as part of the measures that reduce the risk for COVID and consider they provide enough benefits to justify the limited actual problems they cause (as in confirmed, not just theoretical and unfound in the population that have used them since a long time ago).

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

No.

individual choice.

paranoid, stay home.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Comments here proving that we NEVER should have lifted the mask mandate. Clearly some people cannot be trusted with free will.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Your life your choice!

If you are concerned wear one if not don’t….BUT don’t force people who don’t want to to do so just to please your own phobias

What has this to do with the article? nobody is forcing anything on anyone, the article is about the scientific evidence and what people that are worried about what is best to do, not what they can force into anybody.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Your face, your mouth, your breath... your choice.

-6 ( +13 / -19 )

When you say that someone "must choose the best studies," whenever approaching the topic of Covid, public health and the attitudes associated with it by its purveyors, in a reasonable public forum, it is all too apparent that the "best" - to you - means simply not disagreeing with you and your worldviews, or else they must be summarily disgarded - by you - in argumentative missives, such as above.

No, that is completely incorrect, best means those studies with more subjects being studied, with proper methods, valid statistical considerations, justified conclusion, complete discussion (including evidence that appears to contradict the conclusions of the report and why the evidence presented is of higher quality) etc.

You would have known if you actually read the reference I provided, where the institution you referred people to is characterized in detail and how they misrepresent the scientific evidence for their purposes.

Just thinking the whole of the scientific community (that clearly says masks do reduce the risk from the infection and their benefits greatly outweigh their disadvantages) is all wrong because they just ignore anything that "disagree" with them is not rational, much less valid.

See the reference and disprove that the institution you choose is heavily biased and follows invalid methods to select the evidence they want to present. Ignoring the evidence presented about it and dismissing it by thinking everybody else (but you) is ignoring valid evidence would be proof that you are the one actually doing it.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Science is only accurate when all the variables have been accounted for but given the infinite number of parameters that can affect an outcome, it's impossible to have a single instance where the conditions of an experiment are the exact same. No man ever steps in the same river twice.

That is irrelevant, if the best available science at the moment clearly points to a conclusion you still need better evidence to say it is wrong, without that evidence you are simply the one mistaken. Pretending all the scientists and doctors of the world have a worse understanding of their field than you is not even close to being believable.

A coronavirus is 60nm, too small to be stopped by any mask on the market.

This is a deeply mistaken argument, not only because coronaviruses do not fly around by themselves and are contained in much larger particles. But because masks do not work only as physical barriers (letting anything smaller than their pores pass) but by several well characterized mechanisms such as gravity sedimentation, inertial impaction, interception, diffusion, and electrostatic attraction and thermal rebound. According to this flawed reasoning condoms would be useless against HIV infection, because the virus is much smaller than the pores in the latex.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452199X20301481#bib6

Tests were conducted in Denmark and Bangladesh which claimed masks were shown to be effective, but efficacy was around 15%, and even this figure was optimistic, being several times higher than previous clinical mask studies going back 60 years.

There have been literally hundreds of studies done on masks since the pandemic began, and their effect is at this point undeniable and much higher than 15% (usually above 70%) it is also important to understand the concept of viral load and how a person can be exposed to low amount of virus and because of that not getting sick, this is clearly explained in the article you are commenting on)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.html

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

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