Tonight I am doing a short post to draw attention to a WSJ editorial today that suggested wearing a mask is problematic. The basic premise is that masks are predominantly a political statement and are giving people a false sense of security.
They cite an arcane 2015 study that suggests that masks had no effect in preventing influenza in Vietnam to support their view, along with a comment from Dr. Deborah Birx from several months ago that suggested people wearing masks should NOT have a false sense of security!
The editorial dismisses a well controlled study from Harvard that documents wearing a mask reduced the incidence of COVID-19 in their teaching hospital because the “rates of infection were dropping anyway.” The study actually controlled for that variable. In addition, the editorial overlooks a CDC case report which also supports the effectiveness of masks. The author also cites the WHO’s confusion on this topic, which is entertaining since the Journal has dismissed the WHO multiple times. Clearly the editorial author did not do an extensive literature review.
Certainly, no one wearing a mask should have a false sense of security from this act. Having just walked through Newark airport after Delta did a remarkable job protecting me on a business flight-only to pass through a terminal with an obviously ill person being attended to by paramedics, I did not think my mask would save me. It might have helped someone else if I was infected. I don’t think anyone at this point is unjustly buoyed by using a face covering.
Maybe it was just a counterpoint to the WSJ editorial on the same day celebrating the atomic bomb drops on Japan as something that saved Japanese lives. But at this point in the pandemic, to question the concept of wearing a mask and to argue it is a political choice is insane.