The Coronavirus Mask Charade Continues

Sunday, June 14, 2020
By Paul Martin

By John G. Maguire
June 14, 2020

When he announced on May 1 that masks would be worn in public places, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker was emphatic.

“We view this as common sense. This is going to be basically a way of life. No ifs, no ands, no buts, no doubts.”

However, doubts are showing up.

First, Baker’s order said to wear face coverings when in public places and unable to keep a social distance of six feet. Why’d he pick six feet? There is no research showing that six feet means anything in a public space.

That six-foot idea is an arbitrary guess that was “conjured up out of nowhere,” according to Professor Robert Dingwall, a top scientific adviser to the British government, which like the U.S. has adopted six feet as a safe social distance. The authorities guessed that it might be a good distance because some study had shown that a cough could travel six feet in a tightly closed dead-air space. The relevance of that to everyday life — who knows?

Anyone claiming the six-foot rule is not arbitrary should explain why the World Health Organization suggests a three-foot distance and why Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have adopted that rule, and why Germany and other countries use a 4.5-foot rule. Does the coronavirus behave differently in Europe?

Second, the order never defined public places. Did it mean indoors or outdoors? No one knew, and Baker probably didn’t know himself. It seemed as if he was talking about indoor spaces with other people nearby. However, upon hearing Baker’s poorly defined order, anxious people extended it and ran with it. Suddenly, we saw multitudes wearing masks and bandannas everywhere, even when it didn’t make sense because no one was around. They jogged and rode bikes with them on, walked in the parks with them, wore them in their cars. When crossing a street alone, carrying groceries home, or even climbing mountains, they burdened themselves with all kinds of masks.

The disease isn’t contagious in the open air, but the mask-wearing anxiety sure is.

Your grandmother would guess that the breezy air must be pretty safe, and she’d be right, according to Dr. Christopher Gill, associate professor at B.U.’s School of Public Health. “In most situations, infection in the out of doors is very unlikely. CV19 is transmitting through close contact, largely indoors.”

“There is certainly no cloud of virus-laden droplets hanging around [outdoors],” said Lidia Morawska, director of Australia’s International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health. Infectious droplets would be quickly diluted in outdoor air, she said. “It is safe to go for a walk outdoors and jog and not to worry about the virus in the air.”

The Rest…HERE

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