What is the real science around masks?

What is the real science around masks?

On the BioLogos Forum Daniel Fisher cites an article from the Foundation for Economic Education entitled “Europe’s Top Health Officials Say Masks Aren’t Helpful in Beating COVID-19” and asks the Forum:

So forgive me for rocking the boat, but my interest is hearing all the science and making an informed decision…

Can anyone tell me what to make of what is reported at the following? I hardly have much inside information, but the individuals and organizations that question the efficacy of masks don’t exactly seem fringe or agenda driven.

Thus it raises my suspicion again to be told yet again “the science is settled” when there seems to be legitimate dissent from very serious scientists and public health organizations.

The article purports to quote from recognized health officials in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland that downgrade the efficacy of public mask wearing to minimize COVID-19 transmission. Some examples from the article:

  1. Denmark. ““All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies,” said Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitale…”
  2. The Netherlands. “From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark.” “Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”
  3. Sweden. “With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top infectious disease expert…”

The article goes on to criticize mask mandates as anti-freedom as well as possibly even harmful.

Moderator Christy Hemphill responds with the following links that challenge the FEE article:

  1. Utah sees virus surge – but not in county with mask order https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/utah-sees-virus-surge-but-not-in-county-with-mask-order
  2. Kansas counties with mask mandate show steep COVID-19 drop https://apnews.com/f218e1a38cce6b2af63c1cd23f1d234e
  3. Coronavirus cases rise in states with relaxed face mask policies https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-coronavirus-face-masks-infection-rates-20200624.html
  4. Coronavirus cases down as Californians must wear face masks in public https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/19/coronavirus-cases-down-as-californians-must-wear-face-masks-in-public/
  5. Hamilton County’s mask mandate: Is it working to curb coronavirus? https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2020/aug/07/hamilton-countys-mask-mandate-it-working-curb-coronavirus/529350/

Those links seems pretty conclusive to me.  So what’s with the European health experts so-called skepticism?* BioLogos commentator James McKay offers an explanation:

Here’s a simple question. In the whole discussion around masks, who is actually providing the technical explanations and hands-on demonstrations?

It’s not the anti-mask brigade. If you look at their claims that the science is “not settled,” all you see are appeals to authority from experts-for-hire. And when you actually click through the links to see what the experts’ concerns about masks actually are, what do you find? They aren’t saying that masks are ineffective at all. Their worries are about people ending up with a false sense of security. Or about wearing their masks in ways that reduce their effectiveness. They are being portrayed as saying that masks are not necessary when in actual fact they are saying that they aren’t sufficient.

What you don’t see from them is any kind of critique of the reasons why we are being told to wear masks. No discussion of the R number. No discussion of the fact that the virus gets carried in droplets, and it’s those droplets rather than the individual virus particles that get stopped by masks. No discussion of the demonstrations of why masks are effective that are two a penny on YouTube. Such as this one for starters:

How Well Do Masks Work?  (Schlieren Imaging In Slow Motion!)

That’s the thing you need to realise about science. It is not something that gets decided simply by pitting one set of opinions against another. It is a very hands-on, practical activity where you learn and draw conclusions by actually doing it or seeing others do it.

This issue continues to rage and all too often its evangelical Christians participating in the anti-mask raging.  I am still seeing anti-mask posts on Facebook from my Christian friends trying to make the issue into a “free exercise of rights” issue.  That’s why I’m posting this.  It is a clear case of not understanding the science.  Ask yourself this- why are hospital surgical teams ALWAYS masked with no exceptions?  Would you want your surgeon operating on you without a mask?  It is not a rights issue.  We give up certain rights for the public good.  You can’t drive as fast as you want through a school zone.  Men can’t walk away from their children without supporting them. You can’t pay your workers poverty-level wages. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to yell FIRE in a crowded theater.  The right to swing your fist ends at my nose.  You don’t have  a right to infect me with a virus.

Mask wearing in public isn’t a perfect solution, but it does have limited effectiveness.  See the links above from Christy Hemphill. I’m going to end with the illustration from BioLogos commentator Dale Cutler.  It’s a little crude, but it does help get the point across –

(* If you follow the money on the European health expert article you find that FEE is financed through the Koch brothers.  I don’t begrudge the Koch brothers their right to express their opinions but I do recognize they have a definite agenda, and it isn’t always neutral science.)



116 thoughts on “What is the real science around masks?

  1. Considering the advances in automated material handling systems, supply chain management, RDCs like Amazon fulfillment centers, inventory and tracking systems, I think most warehouse and other supply chain workers would tell you it is better and safer in many ways now than it was even 20 years ago.

    As the saying goes, “It Depends”.

    The balloon is squeezed and pops out somewhere else. Certain things are better. Others worse. Still not good in many situations.


  2. As Chesterton(?) wrote about the appeal of Black Magick, “The Dark Powers have a reputation for Getting Things Done.”

    “Where Love can only plead, Fear Commands. Serve Those Above in Rejoicing, Serve Those Below in Terror.”
    — incantation from one of the Bad Guys in a Manly Wade Wellman paranormal pulp-adventure

    (Don’t know about you, but during my time in the Evangelical Bubble I experienced too much of the Fear & Terror and little of the Love & Rejoicing. So it’s not much of a stretch to go all Dark Side.)


  3. Don’t know about NJ (probably spillover from Greater NYC) but both NY and CA are HIGH-population states, with three of the BIGGEST cities in the country (Greater NYC, Greater Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay Area). That would skew the raw numbers; a better comparison would be Cases per 100,000 population.


  4. I am VERY familiar with TV Tropes.

    There’s even a couple fanworks I’ve assisted on that have a page there.


  5. FWIW I agree with everything said in the post.

    But it doesn’t matter.

    The people who are for DT mostly think that those who are not are evil and running a scam to keep DT from a second term. Mask wearing is just a part of the evil plan to force submission into anti American values.


  6. FWIW, when I do go out to eat or do takeout, I make it a point to add extra to the tip (and not a measly amount either) to those servers and staff at the eateries. They are getting slammed for less hours, less customers, etc. and dealing with all the risks. This is also why I am a dick when comes to masks, social distancing, and all the mitigation protocols even at outdoor eateries. In many ways I would rather give it directly to the people busting their asses in the form of additional tips rather sending that amount to some charity somewhere.

    I hope that makes sense.


  7. One of the points I try and make to peole is that if you are in the upper half or even upper 2/3s of the income brackets in the US your life hasn’t changed in terms of money. Unless you are management/owner in a restaurant or something related to travel and leisure.

    This is really hitting the people at the bottom hard. They are the ones who are loosing jobs or being told to work in conditions that spread Covid-19. And have no savings or home ownership or ….


  8. Considering the advances in automated material handling systems, supply chain management, RDCs like Amazon fulfillment centers, inventory and tracking systems, I think most warehouse and other supply chain workers would tell you it is better and safer in many ways now than it was even 20 years ago.

    By the way, who processes the orders for those essential medical supplies? Who sells them to customers? You do realize that much of sales is commission based, which means if you don’t sell you don’t get paid (and if sales are very very low, the rest of the company doesn’t get paid)? You get paid the same amount every week whether you have a lot of orders or very few.


  9. I think it’s simply that Americans are in the whole unused to inconvenience and discipline, and just want this thing to be over. Thing is, it’s not over.


  10. From where I sit, working-class in an essential medical supply warehouse, you guys sound pretty privileged, like you’re zipping yourselves up in a survival bubble that exists because people like me, at similar high risk in the meat and coronavirus world, people with whom you avoid contact as much as possible, fill your online orders and deliver your necessaries and luxuries to your doorstep, reducing your risk as much as possible while you work online from home. Revolutionary Marxist ideas won’t go away as long as these class divisions continue to get worse, and get worse in new ways.


  11. A terrible pandemic is being used as a lethal weapon by both sides of the political aisle.What have we become as a nation? Christians on both side have picked us the sword of Caesar instead of the cross of Christ (Ariel Nicole Dilworth)


  12. But the makers of Pleasantville made one major error that turned the movie into Propaganda. An attitude of “Nineties Good – Fifties BAAAAAAAD!”

    I grew up at the very tail end of the 1950s, the “First 1960s”. Looking back, the Real 1950s was a mixed bag, both good and bad. It wasn’t all Good like Pleasantville; it wasn’t all Bad like the Fifties are thought of today — Utopia or Dystopia.

    I would have made Pleasantville a bit more ambiguous, with a theme more like “Between the time of Pleasantville and Today, we gained some things and we lost some things. Some of what was Bad in Pleasantville’s time went away, some that was Good also went away. Was it worth it?”

    And a secondary theme about the difference between a Mythologized Pleasantville and its RL version, and how people need Myth, the Old Stories of their culture. And how destroying Myths leaves a vacuum that new Myths will grow in — the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Again, Pleasantville was an old Mythic Past; is today’s New Mythos an improvement?


  13. A disproportionate number of the dead in every state, Red and Blue, are poor minorities. Let’s stop wishing death on people, especially poor people.


  14. Due to decaying and unattended infrastructure, they are in such disrepair that it’s almost impossible to not go off the rails.


  15. Wow, I gotta say, some of you here are in danger of going just as far off the rails as you claim Trump Christians have gone. A lot of weird comments lately. And no… I don’t claim to be perfect. Just an observation, right or wrong.


  16. Let us also forget that there was never any underage drinking, pre-martial sex, crime, litter, drug use, p0rn, or violence anywhere in society, the media, entertainment, politics, and church.

    The movie Pleasantville satires this view in many ways.


  17. That is what all those Fundies tell us. The 1950’s were the pinnacle of society. Everybody was SAVED or about to get SAVED. The US was on top of the world, economic prosperity was everywhere (at least in their circles), music and television was still wholesome, communities were like Leave to Beaver with the white picket fences in front of the houses, the wife stayed at home and always dressed up to clean the house, the husband and wife wore pajamas and slept in separate beds, and teens courted, went steady, and got married right out of high school.

    Something like that?


  18. Just like a case of a restaurant owner going into the kitchen to show the customers that he is “hands-on” rather than setting back and letting the cooks do their jobs.

    Until he gets Gordon Ramseyed.


  19. A picture right out of Mad Men. Non-recirculating AC, everyone smoking like chimneys, the liquor decanter,glasses in the boss’s office, Martini lunches, skinny ties, every man in the office wears a coat and tie and wears a hat outdoors, the female admin to the boss called a Girl Friday, and so on…


  20. Maybe this is why it took so long for Trump to wear a mask. The pants stopping pee example would have escaped him. That is why it took months (especially if staffers continued to use the pee example shown above).


  21. Yeah.

    Just like a case of a restaurant owner going into the kitchen to show the customers that he is “hands-on” rather than setting back and letting the cooks do their jobs. I am sure many a Dilbert cartoon on the interference of management to show they “on top of things”, “hands-on”, or “fully engaged” has been created.


  22. The same Bible Belt states where you find the highest rates of alcoholism, drug use, and porn consumption.


  23. My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) lucked out in that his church has a non-recirculating A/C. 100% outside air intake, exhausted through ceiling vents. He said it was installed in the Fifties “when everybody smoked” and never upgraded. So he figures he’s fairly safe in that respect.


  24. Fortunately I relocated from GA to MA back in Nov. 2019 for family reasons have been working remote for my company ever since out of my home office. Little did I know then how lucky I was.


  25. 3. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store.

    Where you have Dry as Litmus Test of Salvation, you have The Secret Sip.

    Probably more chance of alcoholism because it’s kept in the closet.

    I understand it’s coming out that Jerry Falwell Jr (like Perry Noble) is a SERIOUS drinker. Don’t know if it’s to the level of “Alcohol-based Life Form”. (I’ve seen a couple of those and it ain’t pretty.)


  26. I’ll be honest. Wearing a mask sucks. No matter how I adjust it, my glasses fog up and I can’t see anything. I don’t wear one at work . It’s kind of like an implicit mutual suicide pact. But every time I step outside my home, or my office, or my car, I slap one on.

    About a month ago, you could tell where the Red and Blue zip codes were by the prepeonderence of masks. No longer. The jogging Mayas and Garretts in Decatur with the Jon Ossoff lawn signs are just as maskless as the Beckys and Matts up in Forsyth County where its all Trump/Pence blue as far as the eye can see.

    I wonder what changed.

    Actually it makes a difference. I hate being the odd guy out. Walking the dog on the Greenway panting under my mask feels kind of stoopid when I’m the only one doing it. Hospitalizations are down sharply so that may have something to do with it.


  27. Regarding the “pee on my leg” example up top, masks both outgoing and incoming provide a LAYERED DEFENSE against spread.


  28. Speaking of his internet posse, what is his minion / mini-me Phil Johnson up to lately? Maybe someone should ask Phil if he has talked to his fellow internet posse member / pedophile / prison inmate Tom Chantry lately.


  29. That happened to me this last March 20.
    Only I got ONE day’s notice.

    I fully expected then to be working from home for the next several months. Now five months and counting.

    My company owns its own building, so saving on rent isn’t a problem. We keep our server farm going onsite and have somebody (usually only one) come in every few days as-needed to keep things running and do what can’t be done from home.


  30. Eagle reported encountering “Devout Christians” who months ago were giddy with glee that COVID would kill off all those Libruls in the blue states, sparing Loyal Christian Americans.


  31. Remember the Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation:



  32. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    So I guess Thunderbird and MD 2020 (and similar beverages sold in tall,skinny brown paper bags) are out as the wine in the sacrament….



    Here’s a worst-case scenario: We get The Trump Vaccine (he’s already taking credit for it) as an October Surprise — and find out in November/December it isn’t that effective. Then we try a more effiective vaccine (like, say, the Oxford one in Phase 3 in the UK) and discover there’s an allergic reaction between the two vaccines where you cannot take the second if you’ve gotten the first.

    Second-worst case: We get The Trump Vaccine, it works, but the distribution is shall we say A Political Matter (Loyalty to Trump being the most important factor; Don’t Ask Political Questions). Eagle’s regular Trump-fanatic troll keeps denouncing “Disloyalty” between quoting Bible verses, so this is not that far-fetched. And CDC is part of the Executive Branch.


  34. More-Calvinist-Than-Thou Predestination plus Rapture Ready Dispy sounds like the WORST possible combination. Christians For Nuclear War on steroids.


  35. In the RCC the only requirement I remember is the wine has to be NATURALLY fermented, without additives or artificial fortification.


  36. But I Don’t Get Sued and THAT’s what’s Important.

    “I’ll be gone by then, so That’s YOUR Problem.”


  37. I don ‘t know, not going in that direction often. Keep in mind, though, that Taneytown is Trump/KKK country. The usual rightwing reaction to Covid has been mitigated in these parts by having a Republican governor who has, until recently, taken it seriously. But still…


  38. Perhaps, but we won’t know unless someone comments to that effect. And do we really need another comment war that badly? :-/


  39. His reputation for “smart” was probably overrated. And he’s always been liable to picking fights with people who don’t exactly agree with him. Lordship Salvation, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, Strange Fire… not to mention what his internet posse tried to do to Mike Spencer back in the mid-oughts. JM lost my respect ages ago.


  40. And to toss this one out:

    To me the last 6 months have let me know who are the
    conservative Christians
    and who are the
    Christian conservatives.

    Many that claim to be the first are really the second. And some I would not have thought of as so.


  41. the CDC is no longer to be trusted as they have lied to the public in service of trumpism

    it is a shame that the CDC lost its integrity, but there it is

    it is said that by Nov. 1st trump will be bragging that the ‘new vaccine’ is here because of him pushing it

    (of course an incompletely-tested vaccine is likely more deadly than helpful, but hey, if it gets DT votes, then who cares?)

    ‘herd immunity’ and all . . . . ‘cull the weak’ but keep your personal freedom – the new mantra of the christian far right ‘all for Donald’


  42. “Even better if they die before casting their vote.” (Sarcasm on) Most “Christian” things on the IMonk today. (Sarcasm off)



  43. Just to show how some people ARE taking this seriously. One of my best clients came to me the 2nd week of March and said we want everyone to work from home and basically shut down the office for all but things that can’t be done elsewhere. In 2 days please. Fun few days.

    Now they/we have decided that we need to plan that this will likely not be over till next summer at the earliest. So new project is to move “servers” to a data center and eliminate the need for any rented office space. So the “temp” work needs to be re-arranged to be permanent.

    And though we don’t talk politics I suspect there are at least a non trivial number of R voters in this group. Not all of them are insane.


  44. But it doesn’t seem to affect them if their relatives get it and die. It is still a conspiracy against Evangelicals and Trump.


  45. Unfortunately the vast majority of building HVAC systems in this country recirculate the air constantly with little make-up air from outside.


  46. I hate to be cruel but if they get COVID and die, then that will cure them of their delusion. Even better if they die before casting their vote.


  47. The vaccine distribution for early November is vaporware IMHO and wishful thinking on Trump’s part.

    Given the current delays and need for good Phase III data, I don’t see that happening.


  48. This issue continues to rage and all too often its evangelical Christians participating in the anti-mask raging. I am still seeing anti-mask posts on Facebook from my Christian friends trying to make the issue into a “free exercise of rights” issue. That’s why I’m posting this.

    As others have indicated, yes, you ARE preaching to the choir.

    All of the “we don’t need a mask” people I and my wife interact with are all convinced that it is bogus and some sort of conspiracy. Details vary depending on if they are coming at it from a rugged individual aspect, religion must be free, or just, I’ve been a life long R and they party leaders would not tell me anything that is not true.

    To me this looks just like YEC. They KNOW the answer and thus only believe “facts” or bogus statement that validate their belief. Anything is is a hoax, lie, or conspiracy to make sure Trump is not elected.

    And in that later camp we know people who have relatives who have gotten very sick from Covid but still believe it is a conspiracy to keep the R/Trump from staying in power. China did it on purpose is a part of it.

    So when Trump or others say kids don’t get sick so let us open up the schools without masks, anything against that is a conspiracy.

    And about 1/2 of my family tree descended. from my grandfather, born in 1885 so there’s a lot, are in the anti-mask camps of some sort.


  49. I’ve signed up for the trial. Moderna. But I was supposed to go in for my first physical and a short (placebo maybe) but they cancelled at 4:55pm the day before. Technical issues. Still on hold.

    A friend was in the pfizer study and also got delayed for 2 weeks but he got his shot Monday or Tuesday.

    These are Phase 3. By that point they should not be harmful to most people but they are looking for 30+K people or so to see if it works. From all over the country and with all kinds of jobs/life styles and ethnic backgrounds. And even when on track they don’t give 30+K people a shot all at the same time. They dole them out in the 100s to see if anything new in terms of adverse reactions pop up.

    Anyway I’m betting that Nov 1 is a White House pushed date they can talk about. But only if EVERYTHING goes perfectly and it is obvious that the people with a real vaccine are getting sick in much less numbers than the placebo folks. That 2 of us on the major trials got pushed back 2 weeks and for me 4 weeks and counting doesn’t bode well for “warp speed”. And yes I’m aware that 2 out of 60K isn’t really a valid sample size but still.


  50. Rick Ro.,

    Another thing is his statement that genuine Calvinists (like he is one anyway) would only be a premillennial dispy like himself. He actually said that one of those T4G / TGC / Ligonier conferences some years ago. Throw in the culture war obsession and he has long since Jumped the Shark.


    He was one of the smarter ones, but he let things go to his head and his ego (especially in regards to culture wars, eschatology, and pneumatology).


  51. Off subject: the CDC is asking states to be prepared to distribute a vaccine for coronavirus as soon as the beginning of November. Count me out. Too politically motivated, too soon, too little trust. Does anybody here trust the CDC at this point on this issue, and if so, I wonder: why?


  52. Oh ok. I would think some of the smaller cities like Taneytown would have set up outdoor seating on their downtown area.


  53. It may have something to do with how well or poorly the respective churches are ventilated. It also may have to do with the general affluence of the congregation; those with more means who don’t work or work from home or in safer, less populated workplaces may be bringing less virus to the services than poorer people who have exposure in their workplaces.


  54. Don’t make perfect the enemy of good or even of passable. A restaurant selling 30% outdoors 4 days a week may survive when at 0% for months will likely not.


  55. I’m wondering why none of the schools have followed suit; during the Spanish Flu (when tuberculosis was also endemic) a lot of schools held classes outdoors under tent roofs to reduce the spread of both.

    People were not acclimated to air conditioning. I’m fine being outside with temps approaching 100F if the humidity isn’t too high. My wife. NOPE.

    And in 1918 much of the south wasn’t very populous for this reason. No A/C. Now it is. And AC is a given for at least another month.


  56. My recollection, as a non-Evangelical observer, was that his reputation was as being one of the smart ones. My experience, again as a non-Evangelical observer, is that when I have looked more closely at the “smart ones” I have discovered that they are graded on a very generous curve.


  57. The reversion is very recent, within the past week or two. Schools here are organized on the county level. They have spent all summer figuring out how to do this. Hogan has started sticking his finger in it at the last minute, pretty much guaranteeing even more confusion than is strictly necessary.


  58. “Central Maryland,” which covers a multitude of sins. Carroll County, which is one to the left of Baltimore County, which is not to be confused with Baltimore City. It is a forty-five minute drive to downtown Baltimore from my house on a Sunday morning, rather longer on a weekday.


  59. A few thoughts…

    1) That someone still feels the need to post about the benefits of wearing a face mask is a scathing critique of our nation. Lord have mercy.

    2) Everyone that has posted today strikes me as “already convinced” that wearing face masks is beneficial both to self and our neighbors. In other words, this has become kind of a “preaching to the choir” post. So… I’m not sure we need any more posts about wearing face masks. (In other words, is anyone not already convinced going to read this post and say, “Ah, now I get it”…?)


  60. At one time, McArthur was okay. His study guides were often very insightful, and I still own quite a few.

    Then at some point, he let the culture wars become his obsession. And now he lives there.


  61. The PCA church I used to go to had real communion wine and we celebrated the sacraments weekly. Non-alcoholic wine was also offered for any recovering Baptists or Pentecostals in our congregation (that weaker brother thing Paul talks about).


  62. Hogan for the most part has done pretty good in the COVID response. I have relatives in MD (Eastern Shore) who have been pleased in his handling for the most part.


  63. Depends how the outdoor seating is set up. The places near me have the outdoor tables at least 6 feet apart. Also, the concentration of virus particles quickly drop in the open atmosphere (and any droplets rapidly evaporate).

    In MD it may be too hot right now (unless you are close to the Cheasapeake or one of the rivers for the most part, but by the end of the month it should be much better. I am quite a bit north of you in MA, so the weather is cooler for the most part. Where in MD are you anyways?


  64. Similarly with the governor of Maryland. He has been handling Covid as if he were a Democrat. Sadly, he seems to be in the process of remembering that he is a Republican, and starting to twist arms to get the schools to go back to in-person.

    Oh, and while I have been, until recently, pleased by the governor’s actions, “Not intentionally killing off your constituents” is the lowest bar imaginable for an elected official. It speaks volumes that we consider it noteworthy when a Republican politician manages to get over that bar.


  65. I am a bit skeptical of outdoor dining. It is still a bunch of people sitting fairly close together for an extended time. If there is a nice breeze, this would be fine. But that is hardly a given.

    Also, outdoors under a tent in Maryland in August? There are occasional days when this would be a pleasant experience, but far more when it would not. Maybe in a few weeks.

    As for school in tents, the same problems apply. At to this that modern teaching is far more tech-based than when you or I were kids. That would not translate well, and they don’t necessarily have the supplies such as paper textbooks needed to just jump back in time.

    Oh, and after that month or so when being in a tent is pleasant, it will get too cold. And while I don’t normally subscribe to “kids today!” arguments, I suspect that our tolerance for this sort of thing is lower than it was before central heating and air.


  66. I suppose everyone who cares has seen the John McArthur sermon video where he tells his audience falsehoods about COVID-19. It has gone viral (pardon the awful pun). I suppose I’m naïve and I certainly don’t intend this to start a dumping session on him but I can’t help but wonder, is he deliberately lying? Or is he really that ignorant? He’s portraying as it as a religious freedom issue as Mike the G says and claims that we’re being intentionally misled by health officials.

    I don’t get it.


  67. A variation of the old joke – when going fishing, either don’t bring any Baptists with you, or bring two or more. If you bring only one Baptist with you, they will drink all your beer.


  68. Of course it helps that the Republican governor of my state (MA) is not a Trump leg-humping Kool-Aid drinker. In fact, he is the complete opposite. So yes, there are Republican politicians out there that have not been seduced by Darth Donald.


  69. Same in my area. My local government was ahead of the curve in the pandemic and ordered a bunch of those outdoor traffic barriers that you can fill and drain with water. Local restaurants could sign up to get them for their needs, and several did. They set up outdoor seating in the either the parking lot or on the street parking (in addition to any sidewalk parking). That has helped a lot. Fortunately my 2 or 3 favorite places have always had 80% or more of their revenue come from delivery or takeout so they have weathered the storm pretty well.


  70. Fortunately where I am (MA) most of the eateries close to me has outdoor seating. My shopping consists of quick runs at times when the shoppers are minimal, ordering stuff online, etc.


  71. Because of HIPAA, we are given little information regarding confirmed cases; we are merely told when the worker was last on the premises once their case is confirmed. We are not, of course, told their name, nor what department they work in.

    Management says “Talk to our Attorneys” and the Attorneys all chorus “Liability”.


  72. A lot of restaurants in my area are setting up OUTDOOR dining areas on the sidewalk in front (if street) or in the parking lot (if in strip malls). Those places with a drive-thru (including one local sushi place who also put pavilion tents in their parking lot) seem to be doing well. Still, one (maybe two) of my favorite Middle Eastern places have gone under and the best Italian place in my area has disappeared off the delivery services AND the phone directories.

    I’m wondering why none of the schools have followed suit; during the Spanish Flu (when tuberculosis was also endemic) a lot of schools held classes outdoors under tent roofs to reduce the spread of both.


  73. One large black church was hammered, and they’ve always been pretty lively.

    Black churches do have a reputation for lively Enthusiastic services.

    And dark skin does make Vitamin D deficiency more likely, and Vitamin D levels seem to have a relationship to whether a COVID infection goes Ventilator-critical. So if you’re in a black church, start taking Vitamin D supps –1000 to 2000 IU (50 Micrograms) a day. No actual studies, but it could give you an edge.


  74. I will drink to that (The Brandy). Reminds me of a joke by George Carlin

    There are three religious truths:

    1. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

    2. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.

    3. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store.

    At least the Methodists and Presbyterians say hello to each other in the liquor store. And as for Episcopalians, where you find four Episcopalians, you’ll find a fifth.


  75. Secondarily (op cit the John Campbell video I linked at the top of this thread), a mask does reduce the “number of viral particles” on the incoming step. Not as much as on the outgoing, but anything to give you an edge.

    The video cites observational studies of cruise ships and meat-packing plants where masks were mandatory and there was regular testing. The asymptomatic or “just sniffles” low-end symptom rate was up to 90% on the positives as opposed to the usual 20-40%.

    Speculation is that if the initial viral load is low, your immune system can react to it and ramp up to take it on before the virus reproduces enough to go critical, resulting in an asymptomatic to mild case. (You could still be spreading, though, so keep masked up.) If the viral load is high, the virus overwhelms your immune system and you get a severe case, compounded by immune system overreaction trying to fight the rampant virus from a one-down position and doing more damage than the virus. (i.e. Death on a Ventilator.)

    In short, with low viral load your immune system has the upper hand. With high viral load, the virus has the upper hand.


  76. If you haven’t had a single case in the church, that’s luck of the draw (or a measure of the caution of your congregation outside the church during the week). It’s when you have the first case that all the social distancing measures etc come in – they are supposed to prevent a *second* case (and a third, and fourth, and fifth etc).


  77. The probability of getting COVID-19 is proportional to the number of virus particles inhaled. Above a certain threshold, you come down with the infection.

    And even if you’re over the threshold and get infected, how FAR you’re over the threshold appears to influence the severity of the infection. The more you’re over, the more severe.


  78. I see that firsthand every day I go to work, so the experts who say that ineffective ways of mask-wearing may defeat the purpose of the practice seem to me to have a salient point.

    Remember, that’s ALL FAKE NEWZ!
    “Science” Falsely So-Called!


  79. Neither of the two churches I attend has reported a single COVID-19 infection as a result of attending services. The Greeks are meticulous about social distancing and mask use. The Communion wine is practically brandy (thank you, Your Eminence).

    The Pentecostals are less cautious. They don’t have congregational singing, but the do a lot of hugging. Masks were mandatory, now are not.

    However, several outbreaks have been traced to various churches in the area. What’s going on? Is it the luck of the draw? Is it the congregational singing? One large black church was hammered, and they’ve always been pretty lively.


  80. As a follow-up what are the role of masks in this?

    Simply put masks are useful in that the droplets and aerosols from the wearer are reduced and do not travel as far (especially if coughing, speaking or sneezing). This means that if the wearer is infected, these virus laden droplets and aerosols will be limited in the immediate vicinity of the wearer. Social distancing works to minimize the exposure in this immediate vicinity. IOW, wearing a mask protects others much more so than you. But since coronavirus carriers may be asymptomatic in the early stages, a person does not know if they have the virus or not.


  81. Tied into viral load is this concept:

    The probability of getting COVID-19 is proportional to the number of virus particles inhaled. Above a certain threshold, you come down with the infection. The inhaled virus particle number is determined from the concentration and dispersion of the virus laden aerosols and droplets in the specific environment and the exposure time in said environment.

    This is how mitigation efforts reduce the viral load:

    1) Social Distancing: This increases the dispersion (thereby reducing concentration) of virus laden aerosols, thereby reducing the probability of inhalation.

    2) Limiting activities and time spent in indoor venues: Reduces exposure time.

    3) Outdoor activities: Given the nature of HVAC systems which recirculate the air in the room or building, outdoor activities reduce the concentration and increase the dispersion (picture dissolving a teaspoon of sugar in a coffee cup vs. a swimming pool).


  82. “Viral load”

    This is the aspect that I want to see the most research on. If what many experts are saying about viral load is true, that drives all the risk management in my life. Walking through a grocery store with masks, quickly passing someone, would be low risk. Eating in a restaurant for an hour, high risk. It gives me a set of rules to manage the risk for my family.


  83. I am seeing this at my work also. I am not a HIPAA expert, but many I have read have said that it is being misapplied by employers.

    I have also seen it from the management side, they are afraid to make decisions.


  84. There have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 at my workplace in the last two weeks. Several hundred people work at the facility, at fairly close quarters. Due to the nature of the work, physical distancing of six feet is impossible in many case. Because it is an essential business, it will remain open, even if there is a rash of cases. and even if there are deaths. Because of HIPAA, we are given little information regarding confirmed cases; we are merely told when the worker was last on the premises once their case is confirmed. We are not, of course, told their name, nor what department they work in. I suppose and hope that those who had close contact with the confirmed cases are told, but since this would not be shared information, we in the rest of the facility hear nothing about it. People are terrified, and many, probably most, believe in the reality of the threat of coronavirus. And yet, despite the fact that mask-wearing is required by the company, many workers wear the masks incorrectly, pulled down below their noses. And among these are people who are truly scared of exposure, and of passing it on to their loved ones. It’s not just the anti-maskers that are the problem, I see that firsthand every day I go to work, so the experts who say that ineffective ways of mask-wearing may defeat the purpose of the practice seem to me to have a salient point. I wear my mask properly all day long, except when I eat and drink, and I’m definitely in favor of the practice since I’m convinced of the deadliness of the disease; but the odd thing is that several coworkers who I know are convinced that the coronavirus threat is being hyped and is not that big a danger yet are more conscientious in proper mask-wearing than those who believe in the severity of the threat. Human beings are strange and contradictory creatures.


  85. This issue continues to rage and all too often its evangelical Christians participating in the anti-mask raging. I am still seeing anti-mask posts on Facebook from my Christian friends trying to make the issue into a “free exercise of rights” issue.

    How long before it becomes THE Litmus Test of your Salvation?

    Here’s the latest on the subject from Dr John Campbell of England:

    Point made: The severity of a COVID-19 infection seems to be related to the “viral load” at the initial time of infection. The larger the dose of virus that infects, the more severe the case. So anything that reduces that initial viral load will protect to some extent — you may still get COVID, but it will be a milder (even asymptomatic) case.


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