Home Opinion Is the Media Masking the Truth?

Is the Media Masking the Truth?

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Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

Disclaimer 

Although this article suggests an alternative perspective to masks effectiveness, it does not endorse that the public should completely stop the use of masks. The ideas discussed in this article may not reflect the views of Gilmour Academy, and do not suggest going against the covenant that has been enforced per guidance of the governor.

Intro

Wearing a mask as protection against COVID-19 may be  “common wisdom” culled from the mainstream media (MSM).  Peeling back the mask and venturing deeper, here is another perspective outside the influence of mainstream media (MSM). 

The use of masks is one guideline to deter virus spread, but scientific research does exist that challenges the perceived benefits of face-coverings to prevent the spread of a virus.

Interviews

A local medical doctor recently offered this view on facial coverings: “Virologists measure COVID-19 to be 80-140 nm in size making the weave of material masks to be the equivalent of a chain-link fence to a mosquito. So why are we wearing them? Although we don’t know how many virus particles it takes to cause an infection, it’s almost certainly more than one. So you have to be exposed to enough respiratory droplets (a cough or sneeze) containing enough virus to establish an infection to actually become infected. Reducing droplet dispersal by wearing a mask greatly reduces this exposure risk, though it does not eliminate it completely- as we are seeing that cases are still rising while face-covering mandates are in effect…To my knowledge, masks have not been subjected to a large, randomized, clinical trial, but a growing body of evidence does suggest that masks substantially reduce droplet spread.”

In other words, if a mask is used during a cough or sneeze, similar to how the wearer would otherwise use an elbow or sleeve, the mask may be effective in containing droplets that can spread the virus. The wearer would have to be both infected and lacking modes of droplet capture to spread the virus. Surgical masks are more effective than cloth masks, and there is no true scientific clinical trial to support rampant face-covering use to stop the spread of the virus. In addition, since the number of cases is on the rise in many states with a mask mandate, evidence exists to support an alternative view that mask use does not correlate to stopping virus spread.

Newsworthy Evidence

Ohio’s mask mandate took effect for all 88 of Ohio’s counties on July 23, 2020, at 6 P.M.  Over five weeks later, on September 1, Governor Mike DeWine announced, “Today, Ohio reported its highest number of new cases since the end of July, which is a stark reminder that this virus has not gone away and it continues to spread in our communities.” Even with a mask mandate in place, community virus spread remained active.

https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/coronavirus-dewine-give-update-ohio-response-pandemic/CXp1JyuE9OCCXhJVunJ70I/
The data above shows Ohio Coronavirus cases from August 14 through September 4.  The Governor’s mask mandate began in July. Image via Dayton Daily News, Fair Use

There is in fact extensive scientific literature suggesting that even wearing surgical masks does not greatly reduce the risk of contracting a verified illness. One randomized control trial, in the American Journal of Infection Control, tested the effectiveness of surgical face masks to prevent upper respiratory disease. Out of the thirty-two health workers, two developed colds, one each in the control and test groups. Of the eight symptoms recorded daily, subjects in the mask group were significantly more likely to experience headaches during the study period. The conclusion stated: “Face mask use in health care workers has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds. A larger study is needed to definitively establish noninferiority of no mask use.”  

In another study, “The use of masks and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: a systematic review of the scientific evidence” it was concluded that “there were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”

Lastly, a meta-analysis and systematic review were conducted to test the effectiveness of N95 respirators vs. surgical masks against influenza. “A total of six RCTs involving 9,171 participants were included. 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. Overall, The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks was not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza which suggests that N95 respirators should not be recommended for the general public and non-high-risk medical staff who are not in close contact with influenza patients or suspected patients.”

Risks of Cloth Masks 

Another subject that the mainstream media does not cover is how cloth masks can cause harm. In a randomized controlled trial, the effect of wearing a surgical mask during a 6-minute walking test (6MWT) in healthy subjects is evaluated. The 44 healthy subjects performed two 6MWT. Distance of how far the subjects ran was not affected by the mask, but dyspnea variation was significantly higher with the surgical mask, according to the National Library of Medicine. In another study, 1607 hospital health care workers ages 18 or older working full-time were selected in high-risk wards. The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm compared to the medical mask arm and the control arm. 

Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally, but moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks, and poor filtration have been discovered to cause an increased risk of infection from wearing cloth masks according to BMJ Journals. In the Cleveland Clinic,  cloth masks are not in use for daily employee use, because they pose a danger to the healthcare workers.  In addition to these dangers, medical doctors have discovered a new condition called, “mask mouth” which can be caused by wearing cloth masks daily. The bacteria in our mouths along with the dampness in the masks can cause the skin around the mouth to break out in hives. There are bacteria, yeast, viruses, and fungus that lives in the mouth that is expelled as you breathe, but it is trapped around the mouth when wearing a cloth mask all day.

Summary of Medical Results

Data from the risks of masks may suggest that masks being worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may function more as an obstruction for oxygen inhalation than as an effective barrier to pathogens, resulting in unintended consequences. It can be concluded that no randomized controlled trials with an established outcome have proven any benefits of masks. The nature of a viral respiratory infection is the transmission of aerosol particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers that are a part of air fluidity and are not subject to gravitational sedimentation. This suggests that masks are not an effective barrier to the Coronavirus. Additionally, this data does not suggest an increased ability to block aerosol particles or droplets by wearing N95 masks. Truth be told: Masks are not 100% effective. 

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cloth-masks-ineffective-covid19/
This warning mirrors the New England Journal of Medicine Article. Image via Public Domain, Fair Use.

This conclusion reflects the New England Journal of Medicine statement on the topic of mask use vs. COVID-19: “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to COVID-19 as face-to-face contact within six feet with a patient with symptomatic COVID-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 20 minutes). The chance of catching COVID-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

Conclusion

By challenging the status quo that masks have any impact on the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and recognizing some of the unintended consequences of broad-scale mask orders, the focus can now shift to other critical mitigation steps, like protecting the vulnerable populations, treating symptoms early with proven therapies that have significantly diminished death rates, encouraging healthy habits, including Vitamin D and C supplementation, stressing the importance of a balanced diet, staying home when sick, coughing and sneezing into your elbow,  getting plenty of rest, and thoroughly and frequently washing hands.

The present information about masks’ effectiveness illustrates the degree to which the MSM can decide to operate the scientific vacuum or select incomplete scientific data for their interests. This truth reveals the possible recklessness of these unprecedented times, making aware of the influence of the MSM on one’s beliefs, and stressing the importance to find alternative perspectives.

Balancing the message around “precautionary measures” may help to minimize the burdens caused by worldwide lockdowns. When businesses are shut down, families are forced out of jobs, and lives are forever altered, the media narrative must provide accurate information and holistic analysis in order to best influence the state decision-making that impacts populations. 

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Kaylee Oliveto is a junior at Gilmour Academy and has been interested in creative writing, and more recently journalism for the past few years. Having only written creative stories, Kaylee is excited for the opportunity to write and film online publications using a variety of multimedia tools and software. Kaylee is also passionate about doing service work, specifically interacting with and educating younger children. Kaylee is involved in many extracurricular activities including the co-captain of Just Write, Peace and Justice, Peer tutoring, Lancers for Life, and Speech and debate. Working with the Lance, Kaylee aspires to make positive impacts on the community through her ideas and writing.