Thursday, September 24, 2020


Early in the worry about overreaction to covid there was a lot of talk about jobs, and I completely get that as a counterpoint negative to lockdown positives. It's still a good point, actually, even with lots of people back to work. But lately, I just see lots of people royally ticked off about masks and insulted that they were ever required anywhere and accusing government of overreach on those grounds.  I confess I don't get it.  Even if they are useless and we never should have bothered about them in the least, it's not a big deal, and I get suspicious of people who think it is.  Why? What am I missing?

Maybe I don't mind so much because I'm not that pretty to begin with and don't feel my appearance is suffering much. It might be the better-looking people who feel they are paying a higher price.


dmoelling said...

I'm an owner and participant in an engineering business (essential workers) who have been working all over the world during the pandemic. I'm also the safety director. So I've read most of the supporting information on pandemic restrictions. Being a guy with a really heavy statistics and modeling background, I can usually be a good reader of most technical papers. The changing recommendations on masks is what pisses most people off. They sense (and are correct) that there is no real case for them. It seems to them that the politicians and to a worrisome extent the epidemiologists are just making it up. I personally agree with that point (and find myself in agreement with the Governments of the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden on this). I wear masks to be polite and helpful to businesses stuck in this mess. I tell my staff the same, but also that its their choice in our office if they aren't up close and personal. Even my Asian engineers who are used to wearing masks, like this approach.

This has become another virtue signally tool on the left, but also another thing to fear for those with high COVID anxiety. Tasering people who don't wear masks is absurd and stupid. You don't give people confidence when this is the best you can do. A real absence of leadership all around.

Chris said...

Masks have become a tool for our "leaders" to make us comply, to bend the knee. What's next? Prima nocta?

Donna B. said...

"The changing recommendations on masks is what pisses most people off." So True, Y'all. (That's a Southern Thing.)

And now the CDC is campaigning against trick-or-treat... and I'm buying candy. I remember some fundamentalist sects campaigning against Halloween because evil or something. I also remember others latching onto a great fundraising activity. Harvest festivals... and OK, we'll have a Haunted House and candy... hey, it's fine to wear a costume too. The fundraisers have mostly been 'cancelled' this year.

I have no idea how many kids will show up at my house on Halloween. They won't have to knock on the door because I'll have it all set up in the garage and spookily well lit. Those that do show up are going to get at least one full-size candy bar and an assortment of other packaged treats. They will be in bags set on a table at least six feet away from me and my helpers. My helpers and I will fill these bags while wearing food grade gloves.

If no one shows up, my helpers will be ecstatic as I've promised them the leftovers. If my helpers' parents object to the amount, the leftovers will be donated to a charity which has direct contact with the homeless in my area.

CDC, Dr. Fauci... and others - ya'll done gone one toke over the line.

Unknown said...

A couple points on it's not a big deal, from someone who is unabashedly a proponent of masking:

• When I've done carpentry that involved lots of sawing & sanding of man-made panels that have potentially carcinogenic dusts, I made a point of always buying N95 masks to wear when dust-making, and over they years I found I rarely kept the durn thing on at all the times I should have been wearing it:
•• when wearing it my glasses fogged, so it had to come off when I needed to see detail, measure, or read
•• it got really hot and sticky, especially when working in sunshine or exerting myself, so it was a huge relief to remove it
•• each time I needed a sip of water, the thing had do come off and then be refitted, either with dirty hands or I needed to fully stop work to go wash up.
•• In short, wearing a mask can be a huge annoyance from a comfort and practicality standpoint.

• They muffle speech. In environments with elevated background noise level, the combination of the muffling effect and the lack of cue from seeing the lips is often great enough to make speech unintelligible. This is not as much an imposition upon us as it is on people with presbycusis, but that's still an awful lot of people shifted from functionally hearing to functionally unable to understand speech in public. (There is a joke that people with a hearing problem never think that they have a hearing problem, they think that everyone else mumbles and needs to speak up and speak clearly. It's understandable that their reaction to the consequences of mask mandates would be misdirected anger rather than acknowledgement of having a physical handicap.)

• It is 'letting the camel get its nose into the tent'. At the start of this mess I looked up historic law books and legislative history on the powers of public health departments at various levels of government as used in previous epidemics. I've absolutely no doubt that under the bill of rights as applied to the states and subdivisions, county-level health departments have authority to ban gatherings (even religious ones), and to require masks.

But a lot of people consider it an unconstitutional overreach and I can understand why they would, if they haven't read up on the case law & common law on uses of such powers. There have been a number of state-level public health decisions where I'm much more in doubt about the legality. Some of this stuff, various courts have said "it is appropriate because of necessity", so e.g. the power of California to ban church services is now established and 'constitutional' in that federal court district where required for public health and safety, and I don't know how we get that genie back into the bottle to prevent use of that power in 'normal' times when they think maybe there might be a demonstration after Friday prayers so perhaps they should close the mosque for 'safety'.

• Of all the non-pharmalogical interventions against the spread of COVID-19, mask wearing is the easiest to violate as a visible statement against COVID restrictions. I think having a party is the next easiest, but you need to convince a bunch of other people to go along with you on that one, and have a time convenient to all. A small business owner under a closure can operate anyway, but comparatively few of us are in that position.


Christopher B said...

Even if they are useless and we never should have bothered about them in the least, it's not a big deal..

Signaling works both ways. (We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us)

Keep saying decisions are based on 'science' and 'expert analysis' but keep making the rules based on 'something must be done and this is something', and you get the reaction you are observing.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think "bend the knee" is a bit strong. It is assuming motives of other people, which I generally dislike. When we think we know the motives of others, we may only be projecting our own. As I have heartily disliked this in liberals for years, I feel obligated to be alert for it among conservatives as well. And also myself.

I also have experienced mask inconvenience whenever you need to wear glasses or take a little water. Annoying, yes.

Zachriel said...

dmoelling: They sense (and are correct) that there is no real case for {masks}.

See Howard et al., Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review, PNAS 2020: "The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at stopping spread of the virus when compliance is high. The decreased transmissibility could substantially reduce the death toll and economic impact while the cost of the intervention is low."

Unknown: I don't know how we get that genie back into the bottle to prevent use of that power in 'normal' times

The power, which has deep roots in common law, is not unlimited and is subject to review by the courts under precedential standards, such as reasonableness. Most jurisdictions have statutes that explicitly regulate the power.

Dumb farmer said...

I think what you are missing is that the face mask rules are applied in a racist and arbitrary manner.

Christopher B said...

"preponderance of evidence"
"in both laboratory and clinical contexts" (i.e. where people who know what they are doing wear high quality masks, not just pieces of cloth draped over their faces)
"could substantially"
"cost of the intervention is low."

So, basically what AVI said in his post but using 50 cent words.

Zachriel said...

Christopher B: "preponderance of evidence"

Yes, that's how science works. It is certainly more persuasive than "Is not!"

Christopher B: "in both laboratory and clinical contexts" (i.e. where people who know what they are doing wear high quality masks, not just pieces of cloth draped over their faces)

The paper discusses cloth masks in detail, adding to the evidence that masks reduce the probability of transmission.

PenGun said...

The problem most of America seems to have, is a simple understanding of physics.

Masks stop outflow of viral particles at about an 80% level, compared to no mask. Masks stop inflow of viral particles at about a 20% rate.

In the first case less virus is spread, in the second your viral intake will be less. This should be fairly obvious.

But I do understand "your freedoms" Trump physics. ;)

GraniteDad said...

This is where the cantankerous nature of my fellow conservatives and libertarians is really frustrating. While the media was talking about how much worse the flu was, and Trump was largely ignoring the reality that was coming, and his surgeon general was acting like masks weren't important for regular people, and democratic politicians were saying any actions by Trump were racist, conservatives were sounding the alarm, highlighting that people should wear masks, and calling for locking down high risk areas like NYC to prevent deaths.

Once others finally followed suit, conservatives now feel the need to be argumentative the other way. Our irascible nature is charming at times, but immensely frustrating here.

james said...

Wrt masks and "better looking people": Althouse linked to this

Linda Fox said...

They do make communication difficult - not just the portion that is augmented by expression, but also the muffled sounds that are hard to distinguish.

I'm hearing impaired - about 1/3 of my hearing is gone. Some portion of that can be recovered through using hearing aids (VERY expensive hearing aids - about $5k for aids that last about 8-10 years).

But, even with those aids, the quality of the sound is heavily affected by the barriers covering people's mouths, not to mention the lip-reading that cannot be done with the masks on. Many places will not accept the clear plastic shields as a replacement (likely a violation of ADA rules).

It's exhausting. I recently had to go without my aids for several weeks, while they were being repaired. It was exhausting - it takes a LOT of energy to battle through poorly understood conversation. Multiply that by at least 5 for phone conversations. I don't even want to discuss the many Zoom-type meetings, and the challenges those present.

The thing is, it's not just "wear the damn mask!". It's that what seems like such a small thing is HUGE to those of us who have hearing/speech issues, which a significant number of those most affected by this do. It saps the strength out of me, and leads me to avoid opportunities to socialize - BECAUSE I CAN'T STAND THE PROBLEMS IT CAUSES ME, AND I'M TIRED OF PEOPLE ROLLING THEIR EYES, OR SAYING "NEVER MIND" AND GIVING UP WHEN I ASK THEM TO REPEAT SOMETHING - SOMETIMES 5 OR MORE TIMES.

Whew! I feel better now.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

An excellent point.