The Mask Hoax

Are masks making us more susceptible to the virus?

M. Villarroel

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The coronavirus is a daily topic of conversation for many Americans; this virus has spread globally, creating a state of emergency. Many companies and governmental institutions are working arduously to find why and how the virus propagates and, more importantly, how it can be eradicated.
In the U.S., The institution in charge of dealing with most of the pandemic updates is The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC; whom to prevent the fast spread of the virus, gave a list of basic guidelines to follow, including social distancing, rigorous hygiene, and wearing a mask when the person is in public spaces.

The CDC published a report associated with the coronavirus outbreak in early September of 2020 titled “Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020” their researchers interviewed more than 300 adults from different health care facilities around the U.S. With the experiment they tried to understand what activities made a person more likely to contract the virus and how effective their guidelines were in each routine. Many readers of the report were concerned about the charts’ data, causing a viral effect on Twitter users that claimed that wearing a mask does not help prevent getting infected with the virus; perhaps it can make the person more vulnerable.

To back up this claim, websites such as The Federalist, and The Blaze uploaded articles, expressing, in some cases explicitly, that “wearing a mask does not work.”

However, after indagate more into the topic, it is clear that it is a false statement. Searching on google “risk of wearing a mask,” I found multiple articles, including one published by Snopes, a popular fact-checking website. Madison Dapcevich, the author of the article, explained how in the U.S., wearing a mask has become more political than health-related, especially because 2020 is an electoral year. They mention how mostly conservative magazines misinterpreted the study, supporting that “perhaps wearing a mask made a person most likely to contract the virus”, which is a false claim.

As we can see in the last tweets, the mask is being used mostly as a political argument. Even though the studies show that over three-fourths of the participants wore a mask in public the two weeks preceding their Covid-19 diagnosis, this does not mean that they wore it properly or follow all the procedures in a high-risk area; also, nobody was checking if the person was wearing a mask every day, which can lead to false results. Still, many people are against using the mask, so why is the CDC so insistent about this?

The University of California (San Francisco) had an article illustrating the science behind the mask explained by the epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD, and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD. They mentioned a series of studies realized not only with the coronaviruses but also with the flu virus. One study found that droplets in the air make the virus contagious to other individuals, and nearly all these droplets were blocked by wearing a mask. Another study found that in over 198 countries, wearing masks had the lowest death rates. And finally,

“The most important thing are the epidemiologic data,” said Rutherford. Because it would be unethical to assign people to not wear a mask during a pandemic, the epidemiological evidence has come from so-called “experiments of nature.”

Wear a mask helps prevent getting infected with the virus. Still, this myth proves how the internet can spread misinformation, mainly because most users do not take the time to investigate if the information is correct or not. To conclude, fact-check the data is critical to avoid this misinformation, we can all work together to get through the pandemic, and wear a mask.

Work Cited

“Prevent Getting Sick.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/index.html.Anfinrud, Philip, et al. “Visualizing Speech-Generated Oral Fluid Droplets with Laser Light Scattering: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 8 Oct. 2020, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2007800.

Bai, Nina. “Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus.” Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus | UC San Francisco, 26 Oct. 2020, www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent.

Dapcevich, Madison. “Did CDC Report ‘Majority’ of People Who Contracted COVID-19 Wore Masks?” Snopes.com, 16 Oct. 2020, www.snopes.com/fact-check/cdc-report-majority-wore-masks/.

Fisher, Kiva A., et al. “Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020.” US Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Sept. 2020, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/pdfs/mm6936a5-H.pdf.

Leffler, Christopher, et al. “(PDF) Association of Country-Wide Coronavirus Mortality with Demographics, Testing, Lockdowns, and Public Wearing of Masks (Update June 15, 2020).” ResearchGate, June 2020, www.researchgate.net/publication/342198360_Association_of_country-wide_coronavirus_mortality_with_demographics_testing_lockdowns_and_public_wearing_of_masks_Update_June_15_2020.

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M. Villarroel
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Student, worker, immigrant, LGBT+, human, thinker.