Feinstein proposes withholding COVID-19 relief from states without mask mandates

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on the Senate on Thursday to support an amendment to the next coronavirus relief bill that would bar states that do not implement mask mandates from receiving stimulus funding.

In a statement from the senator’s office, Feinstein announced her intention to introduce the amendment and stated that it was time for Congress to step in and force states to implement such mandates to stop the virus from spreading.

“Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period. [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] said the Senate will take up the next coronavirus economic relief bill later this month. At that time, I intend to offer an amendment to prohibit sending funds to states that haven’t adopted a statewide mask requirement,” said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration.

“My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role,” she continued.

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Coronavirus Fact-Check #6: Does wearing a mask do anything?

On May 21st, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article titled Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era, which states:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.

And as recently as last week, Dr April Baller of World Health Organization said:

“If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask,”

The common counter-argument to this point is that masks don’t prevent you from getting sick, but rather prevent you from spreading it if you’re infected.

However that is disputed by a paper published just last month, but based on research conducted in late 2019 (before the Covid outbreak),
which found that [my emphasis]:

Disposable medical masks are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids. There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

In fact, not only is there substantial evidence masks will not prevent you getting sick, there is some evidence they could actually be counter-productive.

A trial of cloth masks in 2015 found that:

Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in an increased risk of infection.

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A scientific look at the mask fallacy – and why we’re told to wear them

Until recently, the overwhelming percentage of doctors recommended against masks for anyone who wasn’t sick or caring for someone who was.

Consider that on May 21 of this year, the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine stated, “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.”

Consider the report by trauma & emergency physician Dr. Kelly Victory, who said, “[T]here’s no scientific justification for normal healthy people to be wearing masks.”

Okay, those are statements. What about studies?

As I dug for scientific articles both in favor of and against the wearing of masks (I really do strive to understand both sides of an issue), I came across a thorough meta-analysis of extant studies on mask efficacy. The work was conducted by Denis G. Rancourt, Ph.D, and by reading his paper, “Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to Covid-19 Social Policy,” you will save yourself hours of boring library research.

In an interview Rancourt did with Del Bigtree on The Highwire YouTube channel, Rancourt gave an overview of his research, saying:

“If you use only proper studies – randomized, controlled trials with verified outcomes – they all unambiguously say that there is no statistical evidence of a benefit in terms of reducing risk of getting a viral respiratory disease. They all say it.”

Rancourt also says the current narrative about wearing masks to prevent spreading Covid is simply “a river of talk, it’s a river of posturing, it’s a river of policy statements.” He says you can’t just ask people in a study if they had the sniffles last week. You have to determine if people really got sick.

“[I]f you look at those [studies],” Rancourt says, “and there have been many of them over the last decade, none of them show a statistically significant advantage to wearing a mask compared to not wearing a mask.”

For those who want to dig deeper, Rancourt’s article contains links to each randomized, controlled trial on mask efficacy, and it’s a recommended read.

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