“Consistency” may be “the hobgoblin of little minds,” but it’s also very reassuring if coming from our public health officials. Otherwise, all of these mandates about masks and vaccines devolve into nothing more than scare talk from people whose job it is to have answers but who don’t have any.
The state of Florida is tearing itself apart over whether children should wear masks when going to school. Yes, more children are contracting COVID-19 than previously shown and kids under 12 have yet to be eligible to get vaccinated.
But the hysteria being generated by pro-mask advocates against parents who want to choose whether to mask their children is misplaced and may even be counterproductive.
According to a large study conducted by the CDC, rates of COVID transmission are no higher in schools without a mask mandate than in schools with a requirement to wear a mask.
The study, which analyzed some 90,000 elementary students in 169 Georgia schools from November 16 to December 11, found that there was no statistically significant difference in schools that required students to wear masks compared to schools where masks were optional.
“The 21% lower incidence in schools that required mask use among students was not statistically significant compared with schools where mask use was optional,” the CDC said. “This finding might be attributed to higher effectiveness of masks among adults, who are at higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection but might also result from differences in mask-wearing behavior among students in schools with optional requirements.”
As New York magazine’s David Zweig noted, these findings, as well as other statistically insignificant preventive measures, “cast doubt on the impact of many of the most common mitigation measures in American schools.”
And yet mask-wearing has become a litmus test to determine one’s political beliefs. This is a silly metric to use for political purposes and makes children extras in the adults’ political theater.
No one yet knows why children do not contract symptomatic COVID-19 as often as adults when infected with the coronavirus. It certainly doesn’t come down to whether or not six and seven year olds wear a mask.
The CDC’s findings on masks and other preventive measures would not be particularly noteworthy or controversial outside the US. As New York magazine noted, many European nations have exempted students from mask mandates—including the UK, all of Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and even France and Italy—though with varying age cutoffs. The results have not been dire.
“Conspicuously, there’s no evidence of more outbreaks in schools in those countries relative to schools in the U.S., where the solid majority of kids wore masks for an entire academic year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” wrote Zweig. “These countries, along with the World Health Organization, whose child-masking guidance differs substantially from the CDC’s recommendations, have explicitly recognized that the decision to mask students carries with it potential academic and social harms for children and may lack a clear benefit.”
Perhaps it would help end confusion about the efficacy of masks if public health officials came up with a consistent, fact-based policy on masks free of political baggage and the annoying and constant judging of those who choose not to wear a mask.
In the end, it’s all about choice — freedom to choose. At a time when our freedoms seem to be disappearing before our eyes, this is one freedom that needs to be maintained at almost any cost. It’s the foundation of all our other freedoms. Without the freedom to choose, we become little more than servants to the state.