The July 26 Reader Opinion disparaging masks nicely demonstrates why the U.S. has been among the worst rather than best countries in controlling COVID-19. The letter’s scientific statements are the opposite of what I understand the science on masks for COVID-19 is.
For example, the letter claims, “This virus is no worse than the flu.” This virus is different — and much worse. One difference is that most viral infections are contagious only after symptoms begin, whereas COVID-19 usually has a long asymptomatic incubation period during which the virus may be transmitted to others. This is why everyone should behave as if anyone may be an asymptomatic carrier. Mask effectiveness is greater in preventing the spread from the infected person than it is in preventing the non-infected from getting it from someone else. But the two work together — the reason why everyone should wear masks.
A study was done on 100 clients exposed to two beauticians who were unknowingly infected not long before they reopened their salon after the shutdown. But both the beauticians and their patrons were required to wear masks. Weeks later, all 100 clients were feeling well and all that were tested were negative. This is but one of many studies with evidence that masks work.
The letter claims, “I do not have COVID-19.” Science would assert that no such claim can be made without a negative test reported on the day of the claim.
The letter also states, “I am not afraid if I get it.” Saying this, along with eschewing masks, is like asserting one doesn’t care if they transmit COVID-19 to anyone. This is an inverse form of the admonition, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”