New York Times Mask-Forever Brigade Returns: ‘Masks Are Back…Not Just for Covid-19’

December 14th, 2022 11:52 AM

A New York Times story by health and science writer Dana Smith took us back to the spring of 2020 with its knee-jerk advocacy of and anti-scientific confidence in (sigh) masking up: “Amid a ‘Tripledemic,’ It’s Time to Mask Up Again, Experts Say.” Both Smith and her handpicked “experts” sounded way too enthusiastic hectoring readers to don their face diapers once again.

Masks are back, and, this time, they’re not just for Covid-19. A “tripledemic” of the coronavirus, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, known as R.S.V., sweeping through the United States has prompted several cities and counties, including New York City and Los Angeles County, to encourage people to wear a mask in indoor public spaces once again.

Is this “mask up” nudging not a tacit omission that two of the most mask-obsessed, vaccine-mandate pushing municipalities in the USA somehow still failed to contain COVID?

Smith saw “strong evidence” of the efficacy of masks where there is little to none. In brief, if mask mandates worked, why haven’t they worked?

Note that the first link in this next paragraph goes to an after-the-fact phone survey conducted among California residents; the second is from 2009 and is about the common cold; the third is a social justice rant, too busy hailing masks as a weapon against “Structural racism and racial capitalism” (no, really) to cite much science:

There is strong evidence that masks help to reduce the transmission of several respiratory viruses. One paper published in 2020 by researchers in Hong Kong showed that people sick with either Covid-19 or the flu breathed out fewer viral particles when they were wearing a surgical mask. (Masks were found not to be as effective for the rhinovirus, though, which causes the common cold.) A study of Covid-19 policies in Boston-area schools found that removing a mask mandate in 2022 was tied to nearly 12,000 additional cases among students and staff.

Rates of influenza and other respiratory viruses essentially flattened during the 2020 and 2021 winter seasons, which was largely attributed to the protections the country took to prevent the spread of Covid-19. “What Covid has shown us, because we’ve been social distancing and mask wearing, is that influenza, the common cold viruses, R.S.V. are suppressed remarkably” by these small individual behaviors, Dr. Schaffner said.

Yet there’s another possible explanation for why influenza rates were flat, one that doesn’t make masks a magic bullet: Covid could have driven those other viruses out via “viral interference,” when the presence of one virus reduces the infection rate of other viruses.

Smith glided over the fact that cloth and blue surgical masks don’t do much against Omicron:

….masking to protect yourself from disease is still beneficial, particularly if you’re using a high-quality version like N95, KN95 or KF94.

She even downplayed vaccines in the fight against COVID (sound familiar?) in favor of masks, masks, masks.

….But vaccines are best thought of as protection against severe illness if you do get infected with a virus. Masks are the first line of defense against transmission.

The “experts” graciously conceded that at small holiday parties with familiar people you can skip the masks “if guests test beforehand.” How fun.

Speaking of Stanford medical professors, another one, Jay Bhattacharya, who fought against lockdowns and mandates through the pandemic, was censored on Twitter for his viewpoint, as has been revealed in the Twitter Files. Yet the only Times reference to the censorship that your author could locate didn’t even mention his name.