Mask Confusion Abounds… And That’s Not Very Surprising


Are you confused about whether or not to wear masks? Do you have a problem fully understanding all the science that keeps getting discussed or written about? Yes? Well, then join the club.

In the last few days, I heard people on TV asking why we need masks at all if we’ve been vaccinated. But one reporter told her audience that she even double masks when she runs alone outside. And let us not forget the report that breathing air anywhere in a room with a COVID-19 patient is just as dangerous as being next to them. And we have a couple of governors talking about ordering their citizens to permanently be masked while others are removing all the mandates.

Talk about trying to “follow the science.” Some people tell me that we should simply accept that changes, even contradictory ones, come all the time, because we keep learning. But what happens when things contradict each other. And everybody seems so vociferous.

It reminds me of a wonderful lyric from The King and I where the King sings: “That tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he knows, Very quickly he will fight… He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so!”

I recall many years ago that when I wrote my doctoral dissertation, one of the key elements, one stressed by all of my advisors, was a section on the limitations of the study. I could find a lot of correlations and prove my hypothesis, but that did not mean the same one would work everywhere. That had to be made very clear before they would approve.

No one seems to do that with all of the rules being made. Way back last year, the people at the CDC announced that masks were not really vital. That led to New York’s mayor and governor to tell people to go out and celebrate the Chinese New Year maskless. The city soon was a key epicenter for the disease, which left some people fleeing to South Florida to help increase our statistics. And we found out later that the folks at the CDC knew it was not true, but made the announcement so that there would not be a run on masks, which might deprive medical personnel of protection. A lie, perhaps for a worthy reason, but a lie that cost lives.

And then we were told we would have to stay indoors for three weeks. Soon things would get back to normal. A year later, well, you know where we are now.

I am not one of the people who argue against masks, even though I hate wearing them. And I was vaccinated very early. But what is the point of a vaccination when you’re told that it really doesn’t matter? Supposedly I can’t give the disease to anyone now or get it from someone infected. If that is so, why must I wear the mask?

Of course, most of us have heard that some people who have been vaccinated have gotten the virus. Ironically, that is a sort of return to medical roots. Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination, noticed that girls who watched cows got cowpox, a very mild variant of the often deadly smallpox. He took the pus from the pox pustules and inserted them under the skins of people, and they got a mild form of the disease. (The word vaccine comes from vacca, the Latin word for cow). Almost all of the current vaccinated cases have not been bad. Most people who are vaccinated will not get it, and those who do, get a mild form.

So what are we to do? Some things are simple. Most of us don’t worry about masks with people we know, especially if we know they’ve been vaccinated. And we wear them at stores and malls, etc., partly as a matter of manners. People are still nervous about strangers without masks.

But many schools stay closed after a year despite dropping enrollments there, and many of those schools and students are in minority areas where educators are concerned about dropping achievement rates. Here in Palm Beach County, things have been fairly smooth. Schools opened a few weeks late but are functioning reasonably well. Cities like Los Angeles and Chicago are now debating whether or not to open classrooms fully for the next school year despite having many schools where students are lagging years behind.

I try to be a good citizen, and I wear a mask wherever appropriate. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind giving all the pontificating bureaucrats a good wedgie. Not for being wrong, but for pretending they know all the facts.