The Mask Debates Mean More

As if this country needed another topic to divide us, nevertheless we find ourselves at odds over the subject of masks.  You know the arguments; masks stop the spread of the China Virus, they protect others from the wearer, why not show care for others, better safe than sorry and so on.  Others think; are we being played by an over-reaching government attempting to control us?  If the masks protect the stranger from the wearer, how is it that apparently that doesn’t work the other way around?  We have been given conflicting information about the effectiveness of masks.  Some medical experts have disagreed with the pro- mask crowd and they have been vilified and silenced, making those already suspicious of government even more skeptical.

So who do you believe?

The particle size of the China Virus is approximately 80nm.  A human hair is approximately 100,000 nm wide.  The NCBI, (National Center for Biotechnology Information) measured the effectiveness of surgical masks for particles of this size and found, depending on breathing rates, between 20% and 85% penetration levels.  So isn’t this building on a sense of false security?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that the virus can remain airborne for perhaps 30 minutes before settling on surfaces where it can live for many hours or even days, depending on the surface type.  That means that everything we touch can be a potential infection point and remain so for days.  People reuse their masks; shove them into and out of their pockets or purses where their hands contaminate and then re-contaminate them.  We all touch hundreds of surfaces in a typical day.  We all rub our eyes, scratch an itch, and touch our faces to adjust our masks and the only way to avoid contamination would be to wash our hands after every contact we made with any surface.

No one knew what this virus was until it began infecting people.  Predictably officials and decision-makers reacted first with little real knowledge, relying on what they thought they knew based on the past; social distancing, shutting down, masks, gloves, hand-washing, etc.  As infection rates went first up then down then up again, many in government immediately assumed direct correlation between mandates-behavior-and infection rates.  Yet situations we see in Sweden for example suggest that our assumptions about cause-and-effect are not correlated.

So instead of admitting they don’t know enough, (let alone everything,) those in authority and those in authority craving more of it blame behavior thereby providing to them the moral authority to impose greater and even farer-reaching sanctions on people.  Those in charge mustn’t be wrong, so it has to be the uncooperative citizen that needs to be more controlled, a classic shift-the-blame tactic of tyrants.

And so we find our way back to the skeptic, unconvinced of the wisdom and even the motives of government however, let’s examine likely outcomes.  Social distancing makes the most sense, but it can’t actually be accomplished unless you live in the Alaskan bush and even then, certain food stables need to be brought in and with them come the potential for the virus.  Even if you get your groceries delivered, on those surfaces may lie the virus.  The fact is that we can’t live for long in our own bubble and all of the other means of protection are even less of a real solution outside of a vaccine or an outright cure.

Even a casual observation of the entirety of the situation concludes that the most liberal of governors in the most liberal of places, imposed the most restrictive and even draconian social measures on citizens.  The sanctions, impositions and decrees were directly proportional in severity to the liberal philosophies of those governors, ditto for all levels of more local governance right down to mayors.  Those who embrace individual choice, freedom and the least amount of government intrusion possible took the opposite approach, starting with the President of the United States.

While the conservatives considered the bigger picture of social isolation, depression, substance abuse, well-care and health screening delays, educational disruption, business decay, entrepreneurial decline and the possible demise of a world-class economy that was pre-virus roaring at a pace never before seen, it strains all credulity to place the blame for this virus at the feet of our President.  Obviously no world leader, or governor, or mayor, or anyone else in their right mind wanted to see a single death from this pandemic.  Yet as the dust settles and we put back together a society and economy the likes of which had never been accomplished before, we need to look to the broad-based optimism that conservative philosophy brings to real solutions and to real problems if we are to survive as the exceptional nation on God’s earth.

Had this virus never happened, Trump would win re-election in a landslide equal to or greater than that of Ronald Regan in 1980.  This virus becoming the deciding factor in this presidential election would be the greatest hope of the Chinese Communist Party and might well explain why they released it into the world in the first place.

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