COVID Masks … Yes or No


Let me say this upfront — I am most definitely an advocate of mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Having said that, I want to share an article I recently came across that questions the efficacy of masks. In the article discussion, there was a reference to a study done by a medical student and two medical school professors at the Cato Institute.* In this study, the authors asked … 

So, are masking requirements just “public health theater,” providing baseless assurance to a fearful public? Or has new evidence emerged to confirm the belief that masks—or, at least, the cloth masks that are commonly used—reduce respiratory virus transmission?

I think it might be worth your time to read both the article (The Ambiguous Science on Masks), as well as the referenced study: How Effective Are Cloth Face Masks? (The latter includes “a summary of the scientific literature on the effectiveness of masking, both against respiratory infection generally and against COVID-19.“) 

PLEASE NOTE: This post is not a vote for or against wearing masks by the general public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The information is simply being shared as something to think about … and debate, if you so desire.

*Via — The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles Koch. In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute. 

84 thoughts on “COVID Masks … Yes or No

  1. Hello Nan. I would like to make a few points. I will try to keep my thoughts on point and limited to essay length or less. 😀😄🤩

    Study data interpretation is only as good as those doing the interpreting have the skill and education to do so and their motivations for the conclusion. I remember the famous study about kids of gay parents that claimed that kids of gay people had horrible problems, were unable to keep up with other students in their grades and so many other horrible things. The study is still used today by the religious right wing, even though it has been totally debunked. Turned out the author was trying to prove a point, so took only information about students that might fit his conclusion, disregarded any contra data, made up what he needed to prove his points. The author even admitted he did that. But again, the study is still quoted by those that love the conclusion the study reached. I investigated the Cato institute and found them to be antigovernment authority and very pro-business. Sort of like saying right wing and so we can figure the conclusion they want the data to reach. I think they are biased and reaching the conclusion they want rather than the one the data provides.

    As noted the education of the ones looking at the data also matters. Dr Scott Atlas and Dr Ron Paul disagree with masks and vaccines. They tout herd immunity. Dr Atlas is a radiologist and Dr Paul is a non-practicing eye doctor. They do not have the qualifications of those they disagree with. Those with the qualification in the field dealing with viruses and immunology say herd immunity cannot be reached with these Coronaviruses and that vaccines do provide great protections. They also say wear masks in some situations. So you have to ask do the people at the Cato institute have the qualifications necessary to understand the data and to interpret it correctly?

    Lastly I will say that when I worked in the hospital it was a policy to wear masks for our protection and the patients. During flu season if you did not get a flu shot you wore a mask, no questions. If you went into a room where the patient might have something communicable you gowned, gloved, and masked. Hospitals and surgery centers take mask wearing seriously. I would say that is a good sign that masks work for what they are designed for. So if the people who are qualified, trained / educated, have decades of experience in the medical area say to use masks and to wear ones of a certain kind, I think people should do it.

    Yea, I kept it short! Thanks for letting me air my opinion Nan. Hugs

    Liked by 7 people

    • One would THINK the fact that hospital personnel wear masks would be a pretty strong indication that masks provide protection. However, one must consider that they do not wear cloth masks … and this is partially what is discussed.

      In a cursory read of the study, I didn’t feel the writers were over-politicized in their findings — and to judge their conclusions simply because they are associated with the Cato Institute is, IMO, premature. This isn’t to say that’s what you were doing, but many others would … simply because of its relationship with the Koch family.

      Liked by 1 person

        • No. The only reason I looked at this one was because the original article I came across referenced it. I actually didn’t even know about the Cato Institute before reading the study. I knew about Koch, but my interest didn’t propel me to do additional research.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t wear a cloth mask either. They’re better than nothing but the provide only minimal filtration. They do work reasonably well in certain situations in reducing the amount of droplets being expelled from the mouth when coughing, sneezing and talking. I wear N95 masks which are now generally available once again. I also distrust any mask that uses only ear loops. A tight seal around the nose and mouth, against bare skin, is essential, and that generally means the type of mask that has two elastic band that wrap around the back of the head.

        Liked by 4 people

      • “One would THINK the fact that hospital personnel wear masks would be a pretty strong indication that masks provide protection.”

        Or, if one knows a surgeon or a pulmonologist or a physicist, one might know that masks provide protection from patient body fluids, but not from aerosols.

        And one might know that hospital personnel wear masks because of an administration mandate, which is based on a CDC recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Cato Institute simply cannot be trusted on anything. period. It is a right wing propaganda machine founded specifically for the purpose of pushing misleading information.

    The other source, the Dispatch, is also a conservative mouthpiece aimed specifically at a “conservative” audience and cannot be trusted either even though it has been critical of Trump.

    Liked by 4 people

    • As I told Scottie, I’m not all that familiar with the Cato Institute. However, the Media Bias website that I referenced also said this about them: We also rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing of information and recognizing the consensus of science. So maybe this report isn’t all bad?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cato was founded by one of the Koch brothers along with two or three other “conservatives”. It opposes all taxes, pushes to privatize social security and other government programs or eliminate them entirely, is strongly isolationist and anti immigration, but at the same time they put out the occasional liberal leaning item to make themselves look more palatable. They oppose minimum wage laws. It opposes child labor laws. It opposes universal health care, is vehemently anti-union. It opposes mandatory overtime payment and limits on the number of hours worked. It opposes all social welfare programs, claiming that private charities would pick up the welfare system. Basically they’re Rand Paul in a nice suit.

        Liked by 2 people

    • “The Cato Institute simply cannot be trusted on anything”

      Trust is for children, not adults. Adults ought to sift data and separate the baby from the bathwater. So many adults are lazy and rely on “trustworthy” sources like the CDC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Could it be possible that the reason why people rely on sources like the CDC is because they have proven themselves to be an accurate source of information? Certainly far better than the so-called experts that offer a dozen different “alternate” treatments that they “guarantee” will prevent/cure the COVID virus.


        • Just so you know, you’re treading water with several of your comments. I’m open to intelligent discussion on issues, but snide remarks are not welcome. If you have something of value to offer, you will always be welcome. But if you continue to throw out “one-liners” that have no substance, you will be banned.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. FYI – there is a huge amount of fraud and counterfeit merchandise in the PPE market right now. Be very, very cautious if buying from on-line sources like Amazon. If you’re looking for 3M products, only buy directly from 3M’s Amazon store, not from 3rd party vendors.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember thenCato Institute always had a man of Fox News representing them. Can’t remember his name. I’d be skeptical.
    But having said that..if only research was done without a predetermined bias.
    I say better safe than sorry, so I wear one. In fact I need to get a better one..a N95 I guess. Omicron is not going to be going away.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. There may be peer reviewed scientific papers on masks and lots of controversy but there is no doubt they have been generally approved by science and that is why masks are being mandated by governments. By the physical presence alone they obviously must assist in some degree for the suppression of airborne droplets and that should be good enough reason to comply with regulations simply because we have little to lose and potentially something to gain from this measure.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have a frontline job. in wear an N95b mask manufactured by 3M. I am fully vaccinated and have a booster. I like to be prudent and not expose myself to unnecessary risk. So far so good. As an aside, i wish more people would just accept that we are in a pandemic and all precautions help not only themselves but also others around them.Remember the old saying? The opera is not over till the fat lady sings.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Most, if not all, studies, are performed with the aim of “finding” the result that the people doing the study, or paying for the study, want to find, whether it’s studying masks, or gay parenting results, or if green M&Ms make you horny. If the results aren’t what was desired, then they are manipulated to created the desired result. I don’t grant too much credence to any study for this reason alone.

    Americans are spoiled brats. They just don’t want to wear masks & they’ll cite any source to back them up. They want life to go back to “normal” & we’re way past that point now. This is the new normal! Get used to it.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. In agreement with most everybody here. Even scientists are biased towards whoever is funding their research, to keep the money flowing in. Off topic, but does anyone really believe the trillions of dollars that has gone into cancer research have not helped discover many better treatments than the researchers are willing to let us know about. If that permanently-open tap were suddenly shut off, by announcing a cure for cancer, millions of research projects would lose their funding — and their high-paying jobs. Any scientist who makes such an announcement will be called a liar by the others, who will refute any truth. It is in their favour to not find a cure.
    It is in the Republicans’ favour to say masks don’t work.
    My partner and I have already agreed, we will now wear masks until we die, no matter what anyone else says. It costs us next to nothing, and our health has improved over the last two years. No flus, no colds. We live in flu/cold country. Masks have already been a tremendous boon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rawgod, you mentioned something that seems to get buried in all of the shouting, no flu last year. Or almost none. I don’t know about other areas but here in Wisconsin there were almost no cases of flu reported at all for the first time since they started keeping records. The same was true of other common respiratory infections including simple colds. If masks didn’t work why did the incidence of respiratory infections plummet?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Alberta flu too was way down last winter, from thousands to maybe 400. No figures on the common cold, but the numbers had to be similar. Masks work. Social distancing works. Vaccines work!
        Anyone who says differently is grinding an axe, and their axe is less than a hatchet by now. For some reason, they do not want to see the human race succeed, but there is one unfortunate side affect to all their grandstanding. They account for most of the deaths in the modernized world. Our national IQs (an unnoteworthy measure at best) is slowly rising. In the States, the Republicans are losing way more voters than the Democrats. But they aren’t smart enough to realize that!

        Liked by 4 people

      • Just found out flu is on the rise here in Fla. Got this info from my local hospital where I use to volunteer..


    • You will frequently see papers where the data goes one way and the conclusion goes the opposite direction. And a gloss that supports the dominant narrative is inserted in the abstract.

      The mask study by Bazant and Bush provides an excellent example of this. It demolished the social distancing fiction with data, but gave lip service to masking.


  9. Here in Finland – it seems to me at least – by far most people use the disposable surgical masks. Our employers provide the workforce with them and for free time we buy our own on from the free market. This produces terrible amounts of garbage, of course. Our healthadministration recommended that the disposable mask works perfectly even after a couple washes, up to ten times over. They made some research in the beginning of the epidemy, because there was a shortage of masks here, as there was a failure at our National Preparedness Center (a government office that ensures Finland is prepared as a nation and holds several storages of gasoline, food, equipment, like field hospitals and such for catastrophies, but mostly for war – against you-know-who-from-the-general-direction-of-east). They had bought some poor quality masks from China. I wash my masks few times before disposing them, just to preserve nature even a little.

    The discussion about the usefullness of masks I run into is mostly about this major misunderstanding on their function. The same misunderstanding about the masks again and again is derived from a nother major misunderstanding about the reality, where the individual percieves the world around them from a closed individualistic perspective of their own. Numerous people have told me, that the masks do not protect the wearer much and this is why they feel it is futile to use them. I try to tell them, that the surgeon in the operating theatre does not wear the mask to protect themself, but to protect the patient from bacteria and virus infections and that in this case we are all both the surgeon and the patient. That we are infact protecting each other. Some get it, but some have buried their heads so deep up their own asses, that it is impossible for them to accept just about anything to benefit others, even if it would also in turn benefit themselves if others would do the same. Is it simply too complicated to a good number of people? I guess these are the type of people who only restrain themselves from crime because of potential punishment, and not because it is wrong as such, let alone because they would prefer to live in a world whithout crime.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “I try to tell them, that the surgeon in the operating theatre does not wear the mask to protect themself, but to protect the patient from bacteria and virus infections”

      However, a 1981 study by Neil Orr showed that masks don’t diminish surgical wound infections. Quite the contrary, masks increased surgical wound infections by 50%.


    • Wearing masks in the operating room protects surgical staff from patient body fluids being sprayed into their nose and mouth. Many also wear goggles or “loops” to protect their eyes, but actually the eyes are quite well protected from infection without goggles. Eyes are bathed in lysozyme and lactoferrin.


  10. If I go anywhere that’s public, I mask up. If I’m getting gas, and can pay for it at the pump, I probably won’t wear a mask. Restaurants? Or other covid party situations? A team of horses could not drag me in there, even though I’m fully vaccinated, with the booster.

    Knowing that the institute that did the study is an arm of the right wing stoopid brigade (and I’d not have known without looking it up, or without Scottie’s input,) would skew my position towards them NOT being a reliable source.

    @silverapplequeen, if the Chinese only knew that green M&M’s made you horny! We could save a lot of endanged species, and invest in the company. First we invest, then we start the rumor they make you horny 😉 $$$

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think masks are effective to a degree. How ill you get depends on viral load too so anything that reduces viral load will help. Of course, people need to wear them correctly. I see a lot of people with masks who have their nose outside the mask. Why even bother?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I wear a mask going into any public place.

    When this virus first became a thing I ordered cloth masks online because there were none in the stores. Worthless. Nearly. They had no wire to shape them to the nose. But we still tried to use them. There is no such thing as a 100% effective mask, fabric or fiber.

    There is no 100% effective vaccination. I don’t want to know who said there was such a thing.

    I wear a mask. I’m vaccinated and boosted. I keep my distance as well as possible in public. I assume there are no safe places or people. When we start thinking we are not vulnerable because we are doing some or all the recommended things we are putting ourselves in jeopardy.

    Pandemic Noun: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease over a whole country or the world at a particular time.

    The virus is not specific to the United States. It has been politicized and nationalized by the same people who assault our democracy on a daily basis. They stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and call dor the end of democracy. They do not even speak for the people they represent.

    I don’t care if the source of valid information comes from a conservative or a liberal source if the medicine behind it is in line with reality. They cannot deny the science while they claim to have the answers. We don’t have to listen to very many of these wild-ass declarations to know we need to discard them.

    Thanks, Nan. This was a very good blog and I think you got a great response.

    Liked by 2 people

    • From the very beginning, there has been discussion and controversy over not only mask-wearing, but the type of mask to wear. Those who tend to be extra precautious (for whatever reason — age, health, family, etc.) tend to go for the ultimate, the N-95. While on the other end of the spectrum, the “idiots” refuse to wear anything.

      In essence, I agree with you that no mask (fabric or fiber) is 100% effective. Even so, numerous studies have concluded that ANY kind of mask is better than no mask.

      I so long for the day when this virus (and all the accompanying activities/discussions related to) becomes history. Unfortunately, the way things are going, I’ll probably be gone before it is. *sigh*


    • “I wear a mask. I’m vaccinated and boosted. I keep my distance as well as possible in public. ”

      Do you also carry a rabbit’s foot in your pocket? I hear that when you carry a rabbit’s foot in your pocket, it doubles the protection provided by vaccines, masks, and social distancing.

      Unlike most people, I actually know the science as I have read over 1,000 medical and nutritional journal articles about covid…immunology, pathology, infectious disease, internal medicine…you name it.

      I am passionate about seeking knowledge about covid and protecting my family with that knowledge. Now I am passionate about protecting society from covid vaccine mandates and am speaking out about the dangers posed by covid vaccines.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s good that you’re “passionate” about seeking knowledge about COVID. Everyone should have a good solid working knowledge of its powers.

        But as far as “protecting society,” that’s best left to those who KNOW the virus — like virologists and other scientists who have worked with and studied (in laboratory settings) exactly what it can do and how to prevent it from attacking a person’s immune system. NOT from individuals who think they know all about it because somewhere they read a “scientific” report or two that happened to “make sense” to them so now they claim to be an “expert.”


        • If you avoid most of what the CDC says, you will avoid a lot of disinformation. Virologists may know the genetic sequence of a virus, but typically they know nothing about the progression of covid or diagnostic tests like neutrophil count or D-dimer. Most think that covid is primarily a respiratory disease and don’t know that covid is a immuno-coagulopathic disease.

          How can you tell if someone actually knows anything, since you haven’t put in the work? I can tell because I have put in the work. Because I have read the science journal articles (e.g., The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, International Journal of Tropical Diseases, The British Medical Journal, Annals of Internal Medicine), I can tell when someone hasn’t put in the work. Like most doctors I speak with about covid. Some of them rely on me to send them articles and analysis.

          It’s rude to minimize someone’s hard work (my work took about a thousand hours to accumulate).


        • Hello Nan. Most people claiming to do their own research really don’t know what that means. Mostly they read a summary of what someone else says the study or report is about or claiming. Unless people have an advanced education in the subject there is little chance that they can understand the nuances and the meaning of the data. It is even more important to not confuse non-related fields of study as having equally valid opinions on a subject. Just as a proctologist and a heart surgeon are both doctors still you wouldn’t want your proctologist doing open heart surgery on you no matter how many YouTube videos he watched. I find the meme about time spent on YouTube not equal to a decade in higher education and a lifetime of working in the field discussed to be more appropriate every day. I also am reminded of the dunning Krugger effect, which seems to have increased faster than the coronavirus can. Scottie

          Liked by 2 people

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