Americans have learned a good deal about wearing masks since April 3, 2020. Initially, citizens were told it would be just two weeks. We now know it’s far past time to take them off. We are proclaiming March 2022 “Take Off the Mask Month.”
🔹For the entire month of October, 2021 and again in February 2022, we counted the number of individuals we saw wearing masks as opposed to those not wearing them in public places.
🔹In October, we traveled in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. All Nevada casinos required masks, so we didn’t count those.
🔹The October result was 274 masked. 1,166 unmasked. Out of 1,440: 19% masked. 81% unmasked.
🔹In February, our counting was confined to the Texas Hill Country (region roughly located between San Antonio, Austin, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Bandera and Boerne). The results were: 1,412 unmasked, 240 masked. 86% unmasked.
🔹Note that the south side of San Antonio was unusually heavily masked compared to most places (except Las Cruces, New Mexico in October) we surveyed in both months. Looking through our notes, if not for this community, the February count would be 92% unmasked.
It is Time to Take Masks Off
Early in the pandemic it was verified that wearing masks does not reduce influenza infection rate according to an examination of 10 studies looking at this claim.
🔹To determine the effectiveness of a procedure requires a randomized controlled test (RCT). Within a population some are given the treatment and others not. By comparing the two populations one can determine if the protocol is effective.
🔹The Center for Disease Control did a pool analysis of 10 RCTs that examined the impact of face masks on reducing influenza infections within a community. They concluded that these studies “found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” These studies covered a wide range of environmental settings from University dorms to households, but the results were the same across them all.
“There is limited evidence for their [masks] effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission,” they found. This applied to masks “worn by the infected person for source control OR when worn by uninfected persons.”
🔹They unambiguously concluded that there was “no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Since we know that flu viruses are spread through aspiration, coughing or sneezing, such a result would seem to defy common sense. However it is explainable when examining more closely how the flu spreads. It is spread through continuous extended close contact, and not casual connections.
🔹Research by the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance in Australia showed that transmission in COVID-19 infected people, even in close contact with others in a high intensity school environment, is tiny.
🔹They arrived at this conclusion by identifying 18 COVID-19 infected individuals and tracing their movements from March to Mid-April 2020. Nine infected students and 9 infected staff across 15 schools were followed. Collectively they had 862 close contacts over this time period. A “close contact” was defined as face to face contact for 15 minutes or in the same room for a minimum of two hours with an infected person.
🔹Those in close contact were tested via swabs or blood tests. Of the 735 students and 128 staff members who came in close contact with these 18 cases only 2 infections were identified.
With a transmission rate of only 0.2% in an active social arena such as a school without masks, it’s easy to see how wearing masks in a casual environment would not reduce flu infection rates. Specifically since the likelihood of infection from a brief interaction such as a store is so small masks are irrelevant.
It’s reasonable to ask if there’s possible harm from mask usage. Anyone who has worn one while painting or construction or any extended period of time knows they quickly become moist and slimy, which is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Pathogens trapped in the mask have ideal conditions to grow exposing the wearer to an increased risk unless the mask is disposed of after every use or chemically disinfected.
One study looked at 1607 medical care workers and found that cloth masks lead to higher respiratory infection rates. “The rate of influenza-like illness is statistically significantly higher” with cloth masks they concluded. Disturbingly, COVID-19 is an influenza-like virus which attacks the respiratory system, so it’s possible cloth mask wearers may have a higher rate of contracting COVID-19. They speculate that, “Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.”
Since May 2020, reports of lung infections from long-term mask wearing, persistent coughing, as well as dermatitis on the skin around the mouth have steadily increased.
Providing one more reason healthy people should not wear face masks, dentists came up with the term “mask mouth” early in the pandemic. They began seeing a new syndrome brought about by the mask-wearing.
The moisture trapped in face masks creates a petri dish of breeding ground for bacteria, as it is in place directly over your mouth.
Like “meth-mouth,” which dentists describe as the nasty teeth and gums of methamphetamine users, this oral hygiene issue is caused by wearing a mask way too much.
Constant mask-wearing “is leading to all kinds of dental disasters like decaying teeth, receding gum lines and seriously sour breath. We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” says Dr. Rob Ramondi, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental. “About 50% of our patients are being impacted by this, [so] we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’ — after ‘meth mouth.’ ”
“People tend to breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose while wearing a mask,” said Dr. Marc Sclafani, co-founder of One Manhattan Dental. “The mouth breathing is causing the dry mouth, which leads to a decrease in saliva — and saliva is what fights the bacteria and cleanses your teeth.”
He noted that “saliva is also what neutralizes acid in the mouth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.”
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