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Mother and child during the COVID-19 pan­demic. | Wiki­media Commons

Today marks day 199 of the “15 days to slow the spread” effort announced March 16. From stringent lock­downs to arbi­trary exec­utive orders by gov­ernors across the nation, our com­mu­nities have been crippled by the media’s quest to follow the “science” for six months.

Science, we were told, requires that each and every one of us does our part to protect our neighbors, the vul­nerable, and our com­munity by staying six feet apart, wearing masks at all times, and avoiding large crowds. 

Science, we were told, requires that we refrain from singing in church, gath­ering in a park, attending a funeral, or exer­cising in the gym. 

If we refuse to obey, we are labeled a science denier, a threat to our com­munity, even a mur­derer. If we dare to chal­lenge the “science” or share alter­native data we are labeled, muzzled, and can­celed. 

Regardless of political per­suasion, reli­gious beliefs, or eco­nomic standing, all Amer­icans share a similar desire to care for their loved ones and their com­munity. We want to feel safe. We desire to know the truth. We love our freedom. 

But when our freedom is restricted under the aus­pices of public safety and security, we deserve to know the severity of the threat we face, and its sci­en­tific evi­dence, without political pos­turing or media manip­u­lation. 

While the severity of the coro­n­avirus should not be min­i­mized or dis­missed, nationwide mask man­dates and gov­ern­mental responses should be further examined and perhaps re-assessed. 

The New York Times reported yes­terday that nearly 207,000 Amer­icans have died from COVID-19 — a tragic toll that has affected many American fam­ilies.

Of the 207,000 Amer­icans whose deaths were labeled as resulting from COVID-19, however, only 6% had only COVID-19 listed on their death cer­tificate, with the majority of people having two or more causes of death listed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention. The CDC also reported that more than 5,000 indi­viduals whose deaths were labeled as COVID-19-caused also had either poi­soning and/or injury listed as a cause of death.

Addi­tionally, in Arizona, health offi­cials revealed that any person who tests pos­itive for COVID-19 within 60 days of their passing will be counted as a coro­n­avirus death

For a glimpse at case data, The New York Times reports that 7.2 million Amer­icans have been infected with the virus, yet 90% of people carried barely any virus.

It is dif­ficult to know the number of people who have actually died as a direct result of the coro­n­avirus, much less the spe­cific number of people who have been infected. This uncer­tainty has caused an increased level of panic and fear for many Amer­icans, and has resulted in unrea­soned com­pliance by the general public to obey man­u­fac­tured forms of pro­tection such as mask man­dates.

The Federal Drug Admin­is­tration has not approved any type of mask specif­i­cally for pro­tection against the coro­n­avirus. In fact, it has said cloth face masks are “not for sur­gical use and are not con­sidered per­sonal pro­tective equipment,” and sur­gical masks “are for use in sur­gical set­tings and do not provide full pro­tection from inhalation of air­borne pathogens, such as viruses.”

At the beginning of the pan­demic, public health offi­cials across the country dis­couraged the use of face masks, saying they were inef­fective in stopping the spread of the virus.

“Masks do not work for the general public and pre­venting them from getting coro­n­avirus,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams via Twitter on Feb. 29, 2020.

Months later, however, health offi­cials changed their tune and sided with liberal gov­ernors across the country who argued that masks might help slow the spread of the virus. Without any new sci­en­tific data or physical evi­dence on the effec­tiveness of mask man­dates, health offi­cials began endorsing the left’s latest decree.

Rather than allowing the cit­izens of America to assess for them­selves their indi­vidual risk and make their own edu­cated decision, the gov­ernment removed indi­vidual freedom from the people and placed it in the hands of gov­ernors across the nation. 

Of the sci­en­tific studies that have been done on the efficacy of masks and N95 res­pi­rators in stopping the spread of viral infec­tions, the data sug­gests that there is minimal to no benefit.

Doctors at West China Hos­pital, a division of Sichuan Uni­versity in the south­western Chinese province of Sichuan, found in a Feb. 2020 meta-analysis that “there were no sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­icant dif­fer­ences in pre­venting lab­o­ratory-con­firmed influenza, lab­o­ratory-con­firmed res­pi­ratory viral infec­tions, lab­o­ratory-con­firmed res­pi­ratory infection, and influenza-like illness using N95 res­pi­rators and sur­gical masks.”

Further, in a 2010 Cam­bridge review on the effec­tiveness of face masks to prevent the trans­mission of the influenza virus, researchers found that “there is limited evi­dence to support the effec­tiveness of either sur­gical masks or N95 res­pi­rators to protect healthcare per­sonnel and there is little evi­dence to support the effec­tiveness of face masks to reduce the risk of infection.”

As for the effec­tiveness of cloth masks and scarves, the World Health Orga­ni­zation explains “there is insuf­fi­cient infor­mation available on their effec­tiveness” and that “using a mask incor­rectly may actually increase the risk of trans­mission, rather than reduce it.”

In Aus­tralia, gov­ernment guide­lines actually dis­courage the use of cloth masks because “they retain moisture and can be a breeding ground for bac­teria and viruses due to its warm envi­ronment caused by the person breathing.”

Regardless of your own opinion about masks, the data is incon­clusive. Therefore, an indi­vidual should have the freedom to choose for them­selves whether or not they feel wearing one is ben­e­ficial. As each individual’s risk level varies, the gov­ernment is in no place to set decrees or force com­pliance. In fact, the CDC explains that masks should not be worn “by children younger than 2 years old” or by “anyone who has trouble breathing,” among other exemp­tions. 

Since stu­dents have returned to college, there have been 48,299 coro­n­avirus cases reported from 37 uni­ver­sities in the United States. Of those cases, there have been only two hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and zero deaths.

“It turns out that for people younger than 20, the like­lihood of dying from COVID-19 in Indiana is a 1.7‑in-a-million chance, far lower than being killed in one’s lifetime by lightning or by a dog,” said Alon Friedman, asso­ciate pro­fessor of med­icine at the Indiana Uni­versity School of Med­icine. “The chance of drowning in a pool is 19 times greater for indi­viduals ages 20 – 49 than dying from COVID. Persons 50 – 69 years old have a lower risk of dying from COVID than they do of dying by falling down steps or being killed in a motor vehicle accident.”

These sta­tistics have been buried by the main­stream media in an effort to man­u­facture wide­spread panic and fear. Do not succumb to the media’s mask mania. Remember, as Ben­jamin Franklin wisely said, “those who would give up essential Liberty, to pur­chase a little tem­porary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

 

Ryan Young is a sophomore studying rhetoric and public address.