Originally published March 17, 2021
As far as provocative headlines go, a call to remove masks in 2021 is akin to declaring the Earth is round in 1421. It will be seen as anti-scientific, harmful nonsense. Nonetheless, as the pandemic wanes and the vaccine is distributed, there needs to come a point where people can be comfortable to go back to normal.
The country has been petrified for the past year, and that petrification has morphed into a national trauma. Like any trauma, it is difficult to let the pain of your experience go and resume life as if it didn’t happen. This is where strong leadership is necessary. This is where our leaders are failing us.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have all been vaccinated for over a month. All of them continue to wear masks in public. Why? According to “the science” that they claim to follow, this is unnecessary.
Pfizer released a study on real-world evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccine. Using data from Israel, the study shows that, “vaccine effectiveness was at least 97% in preventing symptomatic disease, severe/critical disease, and death” after the second dose. This data includes 80% of tested specimens that were of the UK Variant.
Dr. Marty Makary, writing for the Wall Street Journal, is uplifted by this news. In his column entitled “COVID Prescription: Get the Vaccine, Wait a Month, Return to Normal,” Makary writes, “Immunity kicks in fully about four weeks after the first vaccine dose, and then you are essentially bulletproof. With the added safety of wearing a mask indoors for a few more weeks or months – a practical necessity in public places even if not a medical one, since you can’t tell on sight if someone’s immune – there is little a vaccinated person should be discouraged from doing.” Makary does not claim that masks are medically necessary; they are a practical concern because it is unknown who is vaccinated.
Compare this data with the language coming out of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the government’s response to the pandemic. Fauci, since the beginning of the pandemic, has flip-flopped on nearly every issue. He first said don’t wear masks, then said to wear masks, and is now saying to double-mask because of the UK Variant (which the Pfizer study proved was not an issue to the vaccine effectiveness). He went back and forth with school closures. Recently, and most absurdly, he claimed that vaccinated people should still restrict travel.
“When you don’t have the data and you don’t have the actual evidence, then you’ve got to make a judgment call,” Fauci said to CNN’s John Berman when he said that airplane travel should be limited. However, we have a year of data and evidence regarding airplane travel. As Makary points out, “Parts of the new guidelines are absurdly restrictive. For example, the CDC didn’t withdraw its advice to avoid air travel after vaccination. A year of pre-vaccine experience has demonstrated that airplanes aren’t a source of spread. A study conducted for the Department of Defense found that commercial planes have HEPA filtration and airflow that exceed the standards of a hospital operating room.” Yet the CDC guidelines exist for the vaccinated. This is part of the CDC’s anti-science trend that is rampant during the Biden administration.
Back to the masks, the big news of the last few weeks was that states like Texas and Mississippi were lifting their mask mandates. The reaction to this was widespread condemnation by the Democrats and the media. Biden referred to it as “Neanderthal thinking.” But mask mandates have zero correlation to deaths per million in a state. Of the top ten states in deaths per million from COVID, seven have mask mandates. Florida, which has the second oldest population in the country (21.1% of the population is over 65) and does not have a mask mandate, ranks #27. New York, with the 28th oldest population in the country (where 16.7% of the state is over 65) and a mask mandate, has the second most deaths per million. California is one of the youngest states, with only 14.9% of its population over 65 (ranking 47th) and it’s 30th in deaths per million and is one of the most restrictive. There is no correlation between mask-wearing and better results from COVID.
The problem with masks is that it’s considered such a “simple measure” that there’s no downside for the Biden administration to keep pushing it. They will always have their defenders, both in government and media, who say, “What’s the big deal?” or “Better safe than sorry.” The CDC said that even after teachers and staff in schools are vaccinated, “Everyone two years and older should wear a mask covering his/her mouth and nose when around people who do not live in their household, except when eating or sleeping.” There is literally no end in sight to this.
So if the leaders, both political and scientific, are not explicitly saying that life will return to normal after vaccination – what is the plan? If Joe Biden refuses to remove his mask despite the fact that he is vaccinated, why would millions of his followers remove theirs? The freedom to say to the government, “You have no right to make me do this” is fundamentally American, and Americans need to exercise that right, even if it’s for something as small as a piece of cloth on your face.
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Chovevei Zion. You can find Moshe on his blog at www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, or twitter.com/TheMoHill.