“It’s for others!” “It is the Christian thing to do.”
If we could have earned a nickel for every time someone said these phrases about the use of masks during the spread of the novel coronavirus, we would have put an end to this coin shortage within a week. The phrases come from the pulpit; they come from Christian friends and coworkers; they even come from random people on the internet trying to hold the moral high ground. No matter where they come from, these phrases are sometimes veiled accusations used to encourage submission to the frequently mandated use of masks. This author has experienced people implying that the salvation of a Christian is in doubt if they do not wear a thin cloth over their face. This is a misunderstanding of the science on face coverings, and of what Christians should be doing with topics considered non-essential to the faith. What if we can demonstrate that masks actually are not efficacious in the first place? Would that not shift the mask debate, and our response, to its proper place as something of lesser importance for the Christian?
Early on in this pandemic, the use of masks was very strongly discouraged by many of those deemed leaders in the areas of global medicine. These leaders included the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, the US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, as well as NIAID scientist and Trump coronavirus task force expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. This unified front against mask usage devolved chaotically in the months that followed, with these and other sources flip-flopping on the usefulness of masks and many organizations contradicting the others. Dr. Fauci even claims he, among other medical experts, was lying when he said that masks shouldn’t be used by the public, since he didn’t want the public to use up the N95 masks needed in the medical field. It is reasonable to expect the science to change slowly as we learn more, but we have seen decades of scientific practice suddenly flip 180 degrees. Compound that with Dr. Fauci’s obviously low view of the American public, and it becomes completely understandable why there is reticence to trust these experts.
Now, months later, there is finally a seemingly reunited front presented by all these medical research organizations. They seem to agree that face coverings slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This unity is fragile at best, as we start to hear from front line medical doctors (the ones in the trenches against this virus) that disagree with the current thought. These organizations keep claiming that this virus is slowed by the use of cloth masks, though this assumption is still being debated. As early as the beginning of April, an ER doctor in the trenches at a COVID-19 hospital in New York, Dr. David Price, has claimed that masks do not help stop the spread of the virus. He said that the “…transmission [is] almost exclusively from your hands to your face” from someone with symptoms or someone who will show symptoms within the next one or two days. He continued, saying that you would need 15-30 minutes of close contact with an infected person to contract the virus through aerosolized form. However, (here is the critical point) when it came to mask usage, Dr. Price said he hoped they were useful, not for the prevention of the disease, but rather to help train people to stop touching their faces.
His last comment is critical: This experienced doctor who has firsthand experience with treating the novel coronavirus has said that masks do not stop the spread directly. While his claim that they could be used to train oneself to avoid touching the face was an honest opinion, it has not been backed by general practice. All one needs to do is visit the local grocery store to see how often people touch their faces. With uncomfortable masks on our faces (or, more often than not, falling down), we are constantly touching our faces. Even the simple reminder to not touch our face makes us unconsciously more likely to do it. Because the virus not only enters through the mouth and nose, but the eyes as well, the constant handling of our masks to pull it back up our noses puts whatever is on our hands right up beside our eyes, increasing the likelihood of infection from the virus. For example, in California, one month after Governor Newsom mandated masks, the coronavirus case count in the state had increased 162%, a head scratching number if one assumes that masks slow the spread. The quantity of testing has increased, which of course increases the percentage, but it is still not clear if all of that rise was purely from testing alone. We also see a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases on military bases, despite the strict masking and distancing policies enforced with military precision. If masks were the virus stopper their proponents claim they are, military bases that enforce them so strictly should be the easiest place to prove it; however, just the opposite is being shown. To make matters worse, we saw an attempt to manipulate data in Kansas to fit the narrative on masks. The Secretary of Health in Kansas, Dr. Norman, skewed data in an attempt to hide the 77% more daily cases per capita in counties with mask mandates than those without. Let that sink in: the secretary of health—an esteemed “expert”— skewed the data and knowingly deceived the public to promote the particular narrative that mask mandates are effective in reducing COVID-19 spread.
Another critical piece of the puzzle is in the surprisingly low coronavirus mortality rate in the homeless in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Even while living in cramped conditions with others while unmasked, and often having other major health issues, these homeless people are shattering predictions for mass casualties amidst their populations. If masks and distancing were so vital, why is such a vulnerable group comparatively unharmed?
There is very little evidence out there that can resolutely support the notion that cloth masks are even somewhat effective. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency —the equivalent of our Dr. Anthony Fauci— says there is no proof that masks actually limit the spread of the virus. Tegnell went on to say that “It is very dangerous to believe face masks would change the game when it comes to COVID-19.“ The spokesman of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Holland echoes this, saying “Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence…There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.” Many of these experts suggest that masks give a false sense of security. If the masks could filter out small particulates, then then maybe they could be useful, but are cloth masks even capable of doing that?
Actually, we know that the virus is easily small enough to permeate these simple cloth masks, and the force of a cough or sneeze has little problem propelling the virus through those gaps. Not only do we know that masks commonly used to filter out dust particles will not stop the virus, but that the popular neck gators actually cause an increase in particulates, though smaller in individual size. Now, even if the masks reduce the spread, they in no way can stop it. As was already said, states and military bases with stricter mask mandates have shown no real decrease in infection rates. While we are seeing numerous laboratory studies appearing that suggest that the use of any face covering is effective in slowing the spread of this novel coronavirus, what we see in the real world does not agree with such conclusions.
If the masks were nothing but an annoyance, many would be more inclined to accept them, even if just to appease their peers; however, contrary to what is commonly shown in the media, there is data that warns against the long-term usage of cloth masks. Multiple studies suggest that the moisture retention and poor filtration of these cloth masks may increase infection rates. Dr. Osterholm, director of the center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said that, due to the months of viral transmission, cloth masks “…will do little, if anything, to limit the spread of the disease.” Some experts have suggested that the use of masks on a regular basis could be causing more coronavirus infections!, Even the WHO admits potential risks from prolonged mask wearing include self-contamination, facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis, a false sense of security, disadvantages or difficulties for those in the population with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, children, and even wearing them in hot or humid environments, among other risks. They even went on to admit
There is limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in the households or among contacts of a sick patient, or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a preventive measure. However, there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking [emphasis added], can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
To clarify that point, the World Health Organization says that if everyone in a community were to wear masks, there is no evidence that such actions would stop the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19. This flies in the face of the argument that healthy people have an obligation to wear masks for the sake of others. One should take note, since they do not make such claims as publicly as they should.
Other studies suggest that the prolonged wearing of surgical masks, especially the better filtering N95 masks, could, in some people, cause loss of intellectual potential and cognitive performance due to decreases in blood oxygen and subsequent brain hypoxia. Symptoms like dizziness, headache, and shortness of breath are commonly experienced by the medical staff wearing N95 masks. The ability to make correct decisions may be hampered, too. All around, the choice to use masks long term is at best questionable, at worst, harmful, especially to vulnerable individuals., , , , , , 
Beyond that, facial coverings can be difficult for people with preexisting conditions. For example, asthmatics and those with other respiratory issues sometimes struggle with the limited flow of air. Others, such as most with autism, depression, claustrophobia and other mental conditions, also struggle to even keep a mask on, because they either cannot understand why they should, or they have panic attacks from the closeness of objects to their face. Even the CDC makes some exceptions for such people. Many states have their own specific regulations to include these people as well; however, these people face constant scrutiny in public. Many are kicked out or banned from stores, others might even be assaulted verbally or physically simply because they did not wear a mask. Is this really what we should be encouraging? Clearly, healthy concern has ramped up into full-on paranoia with many people reaching the extremes of either completely locking themselves away at home or snapping with aggression and outright violence towards anyone they see who isn’t wearing a mask.
Where does this end? Will we eventually take off our masks for good? Not if we continue to listen to the same “experts” that claim the science is settled (after contradicting each other for months). One scientist thinks that we should continue to wear masks for several years! As he claims, “It’s actually pretty straightforward. If we cover our faces, and both you and anyone you’re interacting with are wearing a mask, the risk of transmission goes way down.” This, of course, is ludicrous, knowing how this issue is anything but straightforward. Dragging himself back into the spotlight after being pushed aside, Dr. Fauci not only has recommended we continue masks for COVID-19, but for each flu season as well, along with the addition of goggles or face shields! Instead of this being a temporary precaution, they are trying to turn it into a permanent practice, as if we can somehow stop death and disease by wearing masks routinely. One might wonder if such a task is simply vain from the start.
But what if this well-meaning stopgap of mask usage is a slippery slope? If we argue that we should wear masks for the sake of others, especially to be “good Christians,” then what else will that logically make us do? Some employers go as far as mandating masks during web conferences, with the only real reason being that masks serve as a reminder that they care for others. Instead of masks being a health practice, they are trying to use them as part of their public image: in other words, they are virtue signaling. If we can be told we are morally obligated to wear masks for the sake of others, what is to stop them from saying the same about receiving a vaccine? It is not very hard at all to see that many in power want to mandate not only the coronavirus vaccine, but all vaccines. Yet when we see that even the adamantly pro-vaccine advocates are hesitant to accept the highly rushed coronavirus vaccines; we must really stop and wonder at their safety and efficacy. After all, never have we seen a vaccine rushed from beginning to end so recklessly as with these “Project Warp Speed” trials, skipping numerous safety tests, jumping to human testing very early on with untested vaccine technology. One of the leading candidates, the Moderna mRNA coronavirus vaccine, uses technology that has never been successfully used before, yet they still rush to completion. If the vaccine provides even 50% immune response yet causes adverse reactions in a high number of patients, wouldn’t we still need to take the suffering upon ourselves for the sake of others? Not at all! We are not called to knowingly bring harm upon ourselves in such ways, especially when the benefits are questionable at best. What of the other costs? Few seem to realize that most of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates contain tissue and DNA from aborted human babies, which was used to propagate the virus. Can we as Christians morally accept a vaccine that is built upon the lives of innocent children?  Where do we draw the line on this ”it’s for others” argument? If our actions in pushing such things cause harm to others, we definitely must second guess the moral foundations of such arguments.
Through all of this, our trust in the guidance of political leaders and “experts” has not helped the situation. It is not difficult to find governors and mayors have displayed blatant hypocrisy in their treatment of this pandemic. They have directly or indirectly implied that gatherings at church and parties are dangerous for the spread of this virus, yet hundreds, sometimes thousands, of yelling (and often violent) protestors are not condemned and pushed to lockdown. Even Dr. Fauci refused to condemn the protests directly. Such a clear infusion of politics into the public policies on virus spread simply negates any trustworthiness of these leaders. To make matters worse, politicians and government officials in Washington DC have voted to make themselves exempt from mask wearing while they are working! This virus must be incredibly intelligent if it can differentiate between politicians rubbing shoulders in DC and a teacher in a room with students or a birthday party with more than ten guests. We also see the first things that presidential candidate Joe Biden and Vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris promise to accomplish together is a three-month, nationwide mask mandate. “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives… Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing. It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American.” In addition to that, they are pushing for even more contact tracing of citizens, which gives government officials the ability to see wherever you go. This is a serious breach of privacy thinly veiled in the illusion of public health. Leave it to a politician to try to take away your rights to decide what is in your best interest by saying “it’s not about your rights.” It comes down to this: if their partisan politics have infected their ability to properly identify which groups are risks to public health, how can we be so sure that they are being rational and scientific when discussing mask usage?
Is it clear yet? At a minimum, it must be clear that the science is nowhere near settled on the benefits of mask usage during this pandemic. Meanwhile, there is research which should not be ignored that indicates that masks might do more harm than good. If masks fail in real world trials when trying to slow the spread of viral infections, and possibly cause physical or emotional harm to those wearing them, how could one legitimately suggest that those deciding against mask usage are being uncaring or unchristian? This is not a theological issue, as many try to make it: we are never called to blindly follow the masses to present an illusion of safety when such safety does not exist. Is it really a case of selfishness to want to avoid wearing masks with all this information in mind? In essential beliefs, Christians must be unified; however, mask wearing is not an essential of the Christian faith. As a non-essential, we are called to approach such a topic with both liberty and charity, not attacking each other for what we believe on such issues. Moreover, we are not given a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love, and a sound mind. If we are actually just feeding fear, we are not helping those who are terrified of sickness and death. We should be giving them hope, and offering them peace, a peace that surpasses understanding and cannot be shaken by physical ailments.
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