The governor is playing a dangerous game with COVID-19.
Though some inconclusive studies reflect a potential curbing of COVID transmission with a mask mandate, there is scientific data against the efficacy of masks. Still, Gov. Polis rejects this science, calling people who don’t wear their “damn masks” “selfish bastards” and imposing a statewide mask mandate.
Study the research before the politics of this pandemic and you find the world’s most respected epidemiologists and infection control organizations widely debunked mask usage among the healthy public. These earlier studies expose why the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. surgeon general repeatedly stated with impassioned authority that masks should not be worn by the general public, and why masks could actually increase the risk of contracting the virus.
The CDC’s 2009 report on “Face Mask Use and Control of Respiratory Virus” reveals that most people touch their masks, seed it with bacteria and render it useless or harmful. The World Health Organization asserted that masks for the healthy public have little benefit and can be harmful. Medical professionals conclude that reusing your mask can increase the risk of coronavirus infection.
The CDC says they shifted their position because of the characteristics of COVID-19, yet the science behind the change is not authoritative. Witness that in April, the New England Journal of Medicine warned, “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection…the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety.” The NEJM is concerned that “focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of COVID-19...” Washing hands and social distancing are more effective.
Even after pressure to change their tune, a NEJM follow-up article on July 9 concluded that the proper use of masks are only effective for people “when cirumstances compel them to be within six feet of others for sustained periods” — not in passing at COSTCO.
In the WHO’s June 5 white paper on the topic they declare that, “the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.” Extensively peer reviewed Journal of American Medical Association states, “there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective.”
Regardless of your opinion, the governor should not be your health guide. The original argument for emergency powers, fixing the supply chain, has been solved. A public servant should not continue to use those powers to violate your personal boundary and tell you what to do with your body.
Nor tell you what to think. You may think the national focus on cases creates unnecessary anxiety. The CDC suggests that actual case numbers are up to 10 times higher than reported. Rather than be alarmed, you realize this results in a potential case fatality rate that is 90% lower than reported. And given that the recovery rate for those without pre-existing conditions is over 99%, you might think that a better approach is to mitigate the risk for yourself, while encouraging the quarantine of the sick and the protection of the vulnerable.
The problem is that the governor assumes he knows what is best for you. You may wish to wear a mask and you may have the discipline to not touch it or adjust it and you may replace it frequently. Or, you may believe it is less risky to not wear one. You can solve a personal health problem without the governor’s help. His overreach undermines not only your individual liberty, but your dignity.
Yet, the governor presumes he is the boss of you. That is dangerous because it coerces mass submission and trades a false sense of security for a long-term deprivation of your foundational freedom rights.
A better way to govern is with humility. He should fix the roads and protect innocent people from violent intruders. He should defend the Colorado way: the right to enjoy life without undo interference, the right to relish liberty without fear and the right to pursue dreams without disruption.
For the balance of COVID-19 let’s return to our heritage and allow people to manage themselves. It would be a breath of fresh air.
Barry Farah ran for governor of Colorado in 2018. He is a deal adviser; served as a CEO in six economic sectors, and has authored three books on business.