Masks for stopping COVID defies science.
- Some bad studies claim to show through inference that masks work, because a few place had lower case loads and wore masks -- but they ignore other better reasons for fewer cases and ignore outliers that prove them wrong. Other better studies/papers contradict the efficacy (especially before the politics of COVID), and credible places call them more placebos or "talisman's" -- good for politics or confidence but little else.
- If the cloth masks worked against COVID, then cities, states or countries with masks mandates would outperform those that didn't. You can cherry pick places that had fewer cases and mask mandates (but it's nearly impossible to isolate it to masks as the cause and not other things), and other places that were disastrous despite mask mandates (like Belgium) which proves that they are not a prime contributor to slowing the disease.
- We know that most people that got COVID were mask wearers. (The CDC says >85%, but other studies show U.S. compliance is closer to 93% and we still had a second outbreak).
- There is a lot of evidence that masks may actually exacerbate issues: touching, talking louder, getting closer and repeating yourself, false security, moist place for virus to survive, all contribute to increased risk, not decreases.
|COVID Masks||Since COVID was transmitted through particulates, and asymptomatic people transmitted the disease, Mask mandates would save lives.||COVID is transmitted through aerosols, asymptomatic people are not really contagious, and Mask mandates did far more harm than good: distracting us from more effective action and dividing America between the informed/skeptical and the blind following Karen's, ignoring the science and lecturing everyone else, and causing fights.|
Masks didn't work
The point is not that my cherry picking is better or worse than the other sides. The point is that real science doesn't cherry pick. If I can cherry pick examples where the hypothesis that masks help failed, then it proves that masks aren't a panacea. You don't make laws of nature/science and then say, "we're going to ignore the cases where our law doesn't work". That's not science.
- California required masks earlier and harder than Texas. California had more cases, more deaths, and a worse curve than Texas early on with the mask mandates than Texas without. Later Texas did add mask mandates, and when the second wave came, they exceeded California a little. But that's the point, if masks worked, then there would be no second wave at all.
- Some states never issues mask requirements (Iowa, South Dakota), 20 states issues them very, very late, and many of those places well outperformed places that had stricter and earlier mandates. Again, some of that changed in the second wave, but the second wave hit the places with mask mandates as well. And the excuse for why it hit fresh places harder was because the other places had more herd immunity (to slow the rate).
- There are many countries that never did mask requirements, or they nonly did it in certain locations or never enforced it like the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland), Iceland, Ireland, Japan, China. They had lower cases than places that required them early and hard like the UK, Germany, France, Belguim, Portugal, Spain, and so on.
- California required masks earlier and harder than Texas. California has more cases, more deaths, and a worse curve than Texas.
- In fact some states never issues mask requirements (Iowa, South Dakota), 20 states issues them very, very late, and many of those places well outperformed places that had stricter and earlier mandates.
- There are many countries that never did mask requirements: the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland), Iceland, Ireland, Japan, China. Many/most of those that "required" them, really only did it in certain locations or never enforced it, like most the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the UK, Germany, France (which requires it, but never enforces it, and few obey), etc. And performance was with many/most of the non-mask places outperforming those that had them.
- There's even more evidence that some that did late masking, or didn't mask as hard, and they did NOT always under-perform those that did it earlier or harder.
Why don't cloth masks matter?
Remember, masks are there to prevent your sneezes (assuming your asymptomatic) from spreading to other people accidentally. Only, how many people catch COVID this way at all? The answers is virtually none. (One case in 305 observations of people that came in contact with asymptomatic but COVID positive people, not wearing masks -- and the one case might have had had contact and got it from another vector). 
Do Masks make things worse?
Even if masks did help with one factor, the question is whether the negatives of wearing a mask outweigh it. What are some of those factors:
- People that wear masks have false confidence, so participate in riskier behaviors
- They get closer to others in order to be heard (and false confidence)
- They speak louder, which projects more particles
- They repeat themselves more (extending exposure)
- They pull the masks down sometimes (defeating them), often the 3rd time they weren't understood -- so they are speaking louder and closer -- now without a mask
- They touch the masks, and then their face (which transmit pathogens more than not wearing them)
- Imagine you go into a bathroom with fecal bacteria landing on a nice moist mask to grow/spread on... yummy
ANY of those things (and dozens of others), could defeat the theoretical benefits of wearing a mask.
So again, the honest admit, we don’t know... we know that in other pathogens like SARS-1, they masks had no positive effects and some negative ones. (Which is why the CDC and WHO both recommended against them). But we aren’t 100% sure that SARS-2 is exactly like SARS-1... it’s just highly likely that it is.
What about mask studies?
I’ve read about 2 dozen studies on the topic. The fake ones (bad science) can be classified in the following ways:
- Single aspect like studying droplet dispersion through masks.
- Cherry picking — they look at some countries that had better outcomes, and wore masks, and compare them to some countries that had worse and did. But they ignore many outliers, and all the factors that went into the outcomes besides masks. (These are political hit jobs)
- Models/speculative — they project that based on either a single factor (like the single aspect), or based on really bad cherry picking, that masks may help.
None of those are real science, those are politics.
The real science studies are the ones that tried to do large scale comparisons in the real world with control groups and people wearing masks or not. All those were done long ago and take a lot of time. Those virtually all showed that cloth masks don’t work. Most show that surgical masks and others don’t help in non-clinical settings.
What some dishonest people do is link to studies that showed that N95 masks or surgical masks do help, in clinical settings, by trained personnel and project that out to the real world and non-trained people using cloth masks. Those people are either idiots, partisans, or outright dishonest.
My point initially was that the evidence for masks is very soft. There’s some theories that implies it might help, and lots of reasons why that might not be the case. And large observational studies show that they shouldn’t really work in the real world — they’re a placebo. Those spouting the benefits of masks are usually more political than rational. They say stupid things like they aren’t needed if you’re burning shit down or rioting, but you aren’t safe with masks in church or school. At the grocery store they’re 100% effective, but not at the polling booth. Teachers can’t feel safe wearing them so shouldn’t have to teach, but that everyone else should feel confidence with them. And so on. That’s politics — and it’s destroyed the credibility of Branch Covidians that are out there pretending that masks are proven to help... when they aren’t. They are lightly suspected that they might help more than they hurt, but informed people are divided.