Earlier today the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines on where masks should be used.
As has been the norm since the beginning of this pandemic, the United States government, first under Donald Trump and now under Joe Biden, has done a less than stellar job of communicating with the public. The mask flyer above is the latest example of this absolute insanity.
It goes without saying that Trump's daily coronavirus briefings weren't helpful—either politically or for disseminating necessary information. For a guy who likes to run his mouth, staying on message isn't something that he's good at (and many would argue it cost him the 2020 election). When you're dealing with a public health pandemic consistency is a good thing. Unfortunately, Trump was not well served by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci who arguably made the pandemic worse with his strategic lying about the efficacy of masks in preventing COVID transmission.
In February and March 2020, Fauci was going on TV and telling people that masks weren't necessary and arguably might increase transmission of the virus because of the tendency to adjust your mask on your face which inevitably involves touching your face.
By April, the CDC guidance had flipped. Was it because we knew more in April than we did in February and March about COVID and how it is transmitted? Yes and no. We were learning more about COVID every day, but that wasn't the reason the CDC advice flipped. As Fauci confessed on air in June, the government was worried about the hoi polloi hoarding personal protective equipment when it was in short supply for health care and first responders.
"Well, the reason for that is that we were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply. And we wanted to make sure that the people namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected."
And now you get the periodic complaints that the American public doesn't trust public officials on COVID. I'm sorry, but when you lie for two months and those lies undoubtedly resulted in a non-zero number of additional deaths, you're no longer allowed to complain that the public doesn't trust you.
In just the past few days, we've had these mixed messages from the CDC.
If you look back over a longer period of time, you'll find this sort of mixed messaging untethered to any updated scientific findings—regardless of who occupies the White House at the moment.
With each passing day, as more and more Americans get vaccinated, mask wearing becomes more about theater than public health.
The latest CDC guidance, says that fully vaccinated individuals can safely go maskless in most outdoor settings. But we've known for months, even before mass vaccinations began, that outdoor transmission of COVID was rare, despite repeated chastisements by the media over events like the Sturgis motorcycle rally and Tampa's post-Super Bowl celebration, but curiously not Joe Biden's inauguration.
In the CDC's updated guidance, of all the potential indoor and outdoor activities, there are only two where fully vaccinated adults get any benefit:
For every other possible permutation the guidance from the CDC is the same whether or not you're vaccinated!
With the societal benefits to vaccination so meager, why would those who are hesitant about taking the vaccine do it anyway?
Also note that the options on the CDC chart ranges from "Safest," to "Less Safe," to "Least Safe." What ever happened to just plain "Safe?" At a certain point, "safe" needs to be good enough. I mean, we took a vaccine that has been scientifically shown to drastically reduce the chances of getting COVID-19. Even if you do get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, the odds of it making you sick enough enough to require hospitalization or result in death are so vanishingly small, it's not worth worrying about.
In another month, continued mask mandates, indoors or out, are no longer going to be tenable. If you choose not to take the vaccine when it's freely available, then the ramifications are all on you. You can't continue to insist that vaccinated people continue to wear a mask on the off chance that they might have asymptomatic COVID, when someone you might pass briefly by in the aisle of a hardware store refused to get a shot.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got a lot of pushback a couple of weeks ago when he told people that if they're vaccinated, act like it.
“So, you know, my view is, if you get a vaccine, the vaccines are effective, you’re immune. And so act immune. If you tell people the opposite then, gee, if it’s not effective for them and it’s not gonna change anything, then what’s the point of going through it?”
DeSantis is exactly right, and all of this mask theater coming out of the White House is counterproductive if you're really interested in the American people getting vaccinated.
There is no reason for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to be wearing masks while seated next to each other in a limo like in the featured image for this post when they've both been vaccinated.
Biden wasn't the only world leader at last week's Climate Summit Zoom call last week wearing a mask, but that's irrelevant because he shouldn't need to wear a mask in that situation anyway. "Fact checker" Snopes explained:
Biden, as shown in the image at the top of this article, was not sitting alone in a room when he attended this conference. Rather, he was in proximity of other members of his team. In other words, Biden was wearing a mask for the safety of those in the room with him, not those on the video conference call.
Except that everyone else in the room was also vaccinated. You're not getting anywhere near our doddering, septuagenarian president nowadays unless you've been vaccinated.
As vaccinations continue to rise, restrictions of all kinds need to end.
More than one quarter of Americans have received both vaccine doses. Within weeks more than half the population will have received at least one dose, which does offer some protection—though not in the 90% range. The masks need to start coming off, and we need our political leaders, doctors, epidemiologists not named Fauci, and others to stop with the theater.
If you're confident the vaccine works, and you want people to get it, then the masks need to come off.