A recent MedRxiv study found that mask mandates and the use of masks in the continental United States were “not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread” during the global outbreak of the coronavirus last year.
Measuring total coronavirus case growth and public mask use with data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the non-peer-reviewed study’s results ascertained that the growth rate of COVID-19 cases did not significantly vary between “mandate and non-mandate states.”
When exposed to higher transmission and spread, “surges were equivocal” across the separate states and “[m]ask mandates and use” could not be “associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges,” the researchers noted.
“Our findings do not support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates decrease with greater public mask use,” they continued. According to the researchers, coronavirus “transmission waves are independent of reported mask use,” and do not associate with case growth.
“Case growth was independent of mandates at low and high rates of community spread, and mask use did not predict case growth during the Summer or Fall-Winter waves.”
This study is one of many to question the prevailing notion that mask mandates were proper predictors of virus mitigation during the initial months of the pandemic’s outbreak.
Last year, despite protest from substantial cohorts of the American public, mask mandates were enacted throughout the country and remained in place for approximately a year.
But after a chorus of state governments have now relinquished emergency powers and rescinded pandemic-era restrictions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, the merits of mask-wearing and societal shutdowns are beginning to encounter popular inquisition.
Following the Freedom of Information Act request that released an assortment of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails to Buzzfeed News and The Washington Post, there is now a heightened concern that America’s public health professionals, as well as public officials, failed to do their due diligence by advocating for policies that may have been grounded in bias or cynicism.
In one email, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared to profess that common masks, those worn by most of the population, are not a viable tool for protecting their healthy wearers.
“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Fauci allegedly wrote to Sylvia Burwell, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus[es], which [are] small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you,” he added.
Over the course of 2020, Fauci would publicly advocate for widespread mask-wearing, saying to Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in a Senate hearing, “Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective.”
Proponents of masks, including the CDC and the National Institute of Health, still contend that they are superior instruments to limit the spread of the virus.
Under current CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated Americans are permitted to resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing themselves.
For those who are either half-vaccinated or completely uninoculated, they are required to maintain taking all recommended precautions, which include mask-wearing and social distancing compliance.