For that matter, what does WHO know that we don’t know for sure?  WHO knows, and what do they know, and when did they know it? I don’t know!  Reminds me of the old Abbot and Costello baseball joke, “Who is on first, What is on second, and I don’t know is on third.” Who wears a mask, and what does it do, and why does nobody know? Are you confused about what to do?

WHO (World Health Organization) sticks by its original advice not to wear masks unless you are sick or caring for someone who is sick. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has made a 180̊   policy switch from don’t bother with masks, to everyone should wear a mask.

The United Kingdom recommends masks for health care workers but not for the general public. Germany likewise did not feel masks are useful, but just switched to the other side, making masks mandatory.

Our Surgeon General tweeted, “Stop buying masks!”

Fifty countries now require masks in public, including France, Poland, Israel, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia, Cuba, Columbia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Argentina, and another thirty-six. 

So what are we, who do not have a coughing , sneezing, talking, or breathing laboratory, to do? It’s all conflicting advice and conflicting data!  It is interesting that all the other public health measures that are being touted have no controversy around them.  Should I have 6 feet of separation?  Where are the double-blind studies that prove that? Do we really need to wash our hands 20 seconds? Has anybody tried to do it for only 15 seconds? Let me answer that.  Nobody! What about all the studies that made surgeons scrub their hands for a full minute , but in the good old days, it was 10 minutes for the first scrub of the day. Is more than a ten people group proven to be the caldron of bacterial and viral contagion?  Somehow the masks have captured our attention, and the fight is on.  Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Brix are wearing masks, but President Trump is not.

What do we know?  If you have ever seen the saliva spray from just talking ( the picture above as well as https://bgr.com/2020/04/19/coronavirus-face-mask-spit-particles-video-social-distancing/) they are very impressive.  They demonstrate unequivocally that masks do decrease the droplet spay from those activities.  If you doubt if that spay containing virus would not infect you, I have a bridge in Arizona, the Brooklyn Bridge, I can sell you for a real bargain. 

The recent unintentional experiment in Mount Vernon, Washington, is very telling.  A minister strongly believing in first Amendment rights, did not wish to stop choir practice, and had a two-hour session of singing where social distancing was practiced, and no one was visibly sick. Of the 60 singers, 40 got the virus, and a few even died. But thank God they did not let anyone violate their constitutional rights!

It appears to me that the double-blind controlled study that requires a large number of test subjects with masks, and without masks that proves once and for all that wearing masks reduces the spread of COVID-19 will never be done.  We may have to rely on common sense and anecdotal evidence.   I used to be annoyed by people wearing masks when I was a non-mask wearer.  Now I am annoyed by the non-mask wearer.  Are they arrogant?  Do they know something I don’t know? Are they smarter than me or dumber? Or are they just impolite and socially handicapped?

I take the tack that wearing a mask shows that I care about the people around me whether it helps or not.  It certainly does no harm, and it possibly helps, according to some.  I do not want people to think I am somehow superior to them.  These are uncertain times.  There comes a time when we must accept less than certainty, and the mask is a great social equalizer even if their effect is uncertain!