On August 26, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared that, “Illinois will join several other states that have reinstituted statewide indoor mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status, effective on Monday.”
Pritzker also declared that, “Masks work. Period.”
But do masks actually work? Do they actually prevent the spread of COVID-19?
For the most part, no, they do not.
Several studies confirm that cloth face masks and surgical face masks do little, if anything, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For example, a recent study conducted by Waterloo University found, “most common masks, primarily due to problems with fit, filter about 10 percent of exhaled aerosol droplets. The remaining aerosols are redirected, mostly out the top of the mask where it fits over the nose, and escape into the ambient air unfiltered.”
In other words, the vast majority of face masks (anything other than an N95 or KN95) only block 10% of droplets from being exhaled.
On the other hand, the study notes, “By contrast, higher-quality, more expensive N95 and KN95 masks filtered more than 50% of the exhaled aerosols that can accumulate indoors and spread the COVID-19 virus when inhaled by other people.”
So, N95 and KN95 masks, although vastly superior to most commonly worn face masks in blocking COVID-19 transmission, are only effective 50% of the time.
Moreover, Danish researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital who conducted experiments on the efficacy of face masks in preventing COVID-19 spread found, “The results could indicate a more moderate degree of protection of 15-20%, however, the study could not rule out that face masks do not provide any protection.”
Per the Danish study, “After one month, 1.8% of the people wearing masks had been infected, while 2.1% of the people in the control group had tested positive.”
The Danish researchers summarized, “The study does not confirm the expected halving of the risk of infection for people wearing face masks.”
Aside from the mountain of evidence that now exists confirming that face masks do little, if anything, to combat the spread of COVID-19, many leading experts in the United States have also downplayed the usefulness of masks.
For instance, on March 7, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes, “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences – people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
In the same interview, Fauci also said, “Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. … There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
Further, in an email dated Feb. 4, 2020, Fauci wrote, “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.”
Of course, Fauci later flip-flopped, insisting that Americans should wear multiple masks.
What’s more, if masks are so vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19, then why have we witnessed so many instances of public health officials (including Dr. Fauci) and politicians (such as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s infamous soiree at the French Laundry) parading around indoors sans face masks?
In reality, despite Gov. Pritzker’s baseless assertion that masks work, they do not.
However, they do work in feeding the narrative of the perpetual pandemic, which empowers people like Pritzker.
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.