When do masks promote freedom from disease and when do they become the source of disease?
On February 14, 2022, after looking at the data and listening to the testimony of Boulder citizens, Boulder’s Board of Health agreed that mask mandates were causing more harm for Boulder County residents than not. While encouraging the most vulnerable to continue wearing masks, they lifted the mandate beginning on February 18.
Knowing when and when not to wear a mask requires looking at lots of evidence and sometimes, a willingness to have emotionally charged discussions, as the diners in the SNL sketch below illustrate:
On February 14, the Boulder County Health Department held a Zoom meeting. 744 citizens of Boulder County attended. Due to time limitations, only 35 had time to speak. All spoke about the evidence that persuaded them that it was time to lift the mask mandates. (No one spoke up for continuing the mandates.) Those speaking were respectful, well-informed, concerned for their families and the community, and mindful of protecting the mosst vulnerable. Speakers told stories of kids struggling in school because of the masks. One mother talked about the heartache of her child needing special residential for emotional distress. Others offered evidence as to why improperly worn masks do not prevent the spread of COVID-19. Others noted that 98% of all vulnerable Boulder County residents are vaccinated and the general high rate of vaccination. Others questioned the use of masks when not a single person under the age of 30 had died of COVID-19 in Boulder County. Others noted that when the mandate is lifted, people and businesses are free to continue wearing masks. Others wondered why we are focused on masking kids, when a mental health crisis and drug epidemic is so much more harmful and in need of attention. One parent offered evidence that masking doesn’t work by noting that a charter school in Boulder Country with a 25% mask exemption rate had far fewer cases of COVID-19 than the public schools with almost no exemptions. Some who spoke up were teachers who noted how masks unfairly discriminated against second language students and those with learning challenges.
After listening to citizen testimony, the Board of Public Health agreed to lift school and public mask mandates beginning on February 18 at 5:00 pm.
This page offers links to some of the research articles mentioned at the Board of Health Meeting. (Note that this page is in progress. In the comments section, please feel free to suggest links to any studies showing the benefits or risks of wearing masks.)
For a nuanced discussion of the science of wearing masks, please visit Dr. Peter Attia’s podcast. Longevity and health expert Dr. Attia has a nearly 3-hour long discussion with some of the most knowledgeable doctors in the country, including Dr. Marty Makary from Johns Hopkins, Dr. Zubin Damania (aka ZDoggMD), and Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Published evidence and common sense tell us that masks, worn appropriately can help prevent disease transmission. Just look at any hospital.
The keys to mask efficacy include the type of mask and how it is worn. Improper masking does little to protect people from infectious diseases. For more info, see: Efficacy of face masks against respiratory infectious diseases: a systematic review and network analysis of randomized-controlled trials
While masks may limit the spread of disease, sometimes the costs outweigh the benefits, sometimes by a huge amount. Improper masking can lead to a false sense of security. In other cases, masking is a distraction from what really matters. Yet in other cases, masking causes outright harm.
Mandatory Masking of School Children is a Bad Idea
The survival rate among American children with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is approximately 99.99%, according to Stanford Professor of Health Policy, Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD based on data from the CDC.
The health benefit of wearing masks is statistically insignificant, whereas the long-term harm to kids is big.
As of September 8, 2021, 138 children have died with COVID-19, according to data from the CDC. During this same period, nearly 9300 children have died. Covid deaths represent fewer than 1.5% of all deaths.
In 2020, an even smaller percentage of children died with COVID-19. According to the CDC in 2020, 5,556 children aged 5–14 died. Of these, 67 died with COVID-19. In other words, 1.2% of all deaths were due to COVID-19.
Masks do nothing to help children
According to Dr. Bhattacharya’s analysis of data from the CDC, there is no statistically significant reason for children to wear masks. In other words, cloth masks do not protect children.
There is, however, a growing body of evidence showing that masking causes great harm to a great many children.
Masking Kids Causes Cognitive Problems
According to researchers from Brown University, children born during the pandemic have “reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic.” Learn more in the following paper:
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Child Cognitive Development: Initial Findings in a Longitudinal Observational Study of Child Health.
Although this paper is still in the peer review process, hundreds of parents in Boulder County have attested to the psychological stress and learning impairments from wearing masks.
Listen to parent testimony from the February 14, 2022, Boulder County Board of Health Meeting.
FOR KIDS, Suicide is Much Bigger Problem than COVID-19
“There has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools. We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose.“
~ Robert Redfield, former CDC Director
While health departments focus on masking to prevent COVID-19, attention is distracted from more dangerous problems, like growing mental illnesses and drug addiction.
The mental health crisis in Colorado is so bad that Children’s Hospital has declared a state of emergency for our youth.
It’s true that masking is better than isolating children. It’s also true that masking does more harm than not masking.
While there is no evidence that masking caused suicides, there is growing evidence that masking causes emotional distress.
More “COVID Suicides” than COVID Deaths in Kids
According to Micha Gartz , “Suicide is a major public health threat and a leading cause of death for those aged under 25 — one far bigger than Covid. And it is something that we have only made worse as we, led by politicians and ‘the science,’ deprived our youngest members of society — who constitute one-third of the US population — of educational, emotional and social development without their permission or consent for over a year.”
COVID-19 only accounts for 1.2% of total deaths among children aged 15-25. Yet total deaths among youth increased 23% from 2019-2020. Only a tiny percentage of these increased deaths is due to COVID-19.
Now that the mask mandates have been lifted, our Health officials now have time to focus on the more urgent problems affecting our community, like mental health that leads to addiction, chronic disease, and sadly, even suicide.
For More Information
- Mandatory Masking of School Children is a Bad Idea by Neeraj Sood, PhD and Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD
- The Mask Debacle How partisan warfare over mandates became a central feature of the pandemic by Jacob Hale Russell and Dennis Patterson, Feb. 16, 2022, in Tablet.
- Boulder County to end mask order for indoor, school and child care settings by ANNIE MEHL, Daily Camera’s – Feb. 14, 2022
- Boulder County drops mask mandate for public indoor spaces, schools, Denver Post, Feb. 15, 2022.
I appreciate your commentary!! Brava!!