Masks work, so stop making such as stink over them

The science is clear, so ignore the denialists

  • Russ Walker
Looking for a couple fun “listens” for your next workout or to play in the background while you’re doing chores? Fresh Air’s Terry Gross had two wonderful interviews last week, one with SNL writer/cast member Colin Jost, who’s got a new memoir out hilariously titled, A Very Punchable Face. The other was with Matthew Rhys, the Welsh actor perhaps best known for playing Philip Jennings on The Americans. Enjoy, and have a good week. —Russ Walker, PA Post editor
The Rocky statue is outfitted with mock surgical face mask at the Philadelphia Art Museum in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

The Rocky statue is outfitted with mock surgical face mask at the Philadelphia Art Museum in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Friday’s Context had a link to a PennLive article about the Dauphin County coroner and his view that mask mandates are counterproductive. While Coroner Graham Hetrick insists that he believes masks are helpful in curtailing the spread of coronavirus, he admitted that he doesn’t wear his all the time, even in public. He told PennLive that mask mandates are about politics, not science.

(We won’t link to the article a second time in the interest of not spreading the disinformation.)

No offense, Mr. Hetrick, but you’re full of it. You’re the elected coroner, but you don’t hold a medical degree, nor are you a trained microbiologist or epidemiologist. You’re politicizing a matter of public health.

Frankly, there’s no arguing with the willfully ignorant or the intentionally nihilistic. But if your Facebook feed is filled with posts from mask denialists and you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s what you should know:

  • Masks work: Last week, the CDC published a report about two hair stylists in Springfield, Missouri, who had coronavirus. Between them, they served 139 customers over a period of more than a week while both were showing symptoms. The two stylists wore masks. So did their customers. The CDC found that not a single customer that they traced became infected. At home, though, the stylists didn’t wear masks (understandable!). Without masks, one of the stylists spread the virus to the family members who lived with her.

  • Why do masks work? Coronavirus, like other viruses, can be spread by the droplets expelled from the body when people talk, breathe and sneeze. A mask absorbs most of those droplets, making it less likely that an infected, asymptomatic person can spread the virus. Watch this awesome PBS video. Or read this excellent NPR story.

  • Masks don’t suffocate healthy people: There’s a lot of fake stuff circulating on social media that says masks hurt people by elevating a wearer’s carbon dioxide level. That information is false. The American Lung Association says, “Individuals with normal lungs and even many individuals with underlying chronic lung disease should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.”

  • That ADA card is fakeGoErie.com’s David Bruce writes that “Some shop owners in Pennsylvania have dealt with customers who have shown them a laminated card that allegedly allows them to shop in their store without wearing a face mask. The card appears convincing. It refers to both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Department of Justice. It is supposedly issued from the ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency’ and the card includes the agency’s website address. But it’s all fake.” Even the U.S. Justice Department (run by William Barr, BTW) says this ADA thing is false. Even people with a genuine disability aren’t guaranteed access to businesses, as this USA Today fact check explains.

  • It’s not just Tom Wolf: Mask orders aren’t just being pursued by Democratic governors like Tom Wolf. As the coronavirus epidemic continues to worsen in parts of the country, Republican governors are issuing mask orders. Let’s make that clear: REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ARE ISSUING MASK ORDERS. That’s true in AlabamaArkansasMaryland and Massachusetts. Even Texas. TEXAS!

  • Mask denial is a bad look: The viral videos are everywhere — otherwise normal people melting down inside stores when confronted about not wearing a mask. Folks, stop it. You’re hurting the workers of these stores and making yourselves look like angry toddlers. What IS a good look? Pulling together with our families, friends and neighbors to beat back the virus together.

Finally, good work, Philadelphians. The data shows you’re mostly wearing masks in public. Keep it up!

A few more coronavirus links:

Best of the rest

Photo courtesy Julie Blust.

A billboard spotted on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Earlston in Bedford County. The inclusion of Dr. Rachel Levine suggests Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the coronavirus is a mess. Polling suggests otherwise.

  • Wolf vs. Lebanon County: Ben Pontz broke down the governor’s decision to withhold CARES Act funding from Lebanon County, where elected officials rejected coronavirus restrictions issued by the Wolf administration.

  • Trump vs. Pennsylvania: Emily Previti reports that the lawsuit filed by President Trump’s campaign against election officials in Pa. will be fast tracked by a federal judge. Time is a key issue, given that we’re less than four months from Election Day. More here from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

  • Redacted: Ed Mahon and Joseph Darius Jaafari wrote earlier this month about Columbia’s refusal to release its use-of-force policy to the public. The city finally posted the policy, but it’s almost entirely redacted. LNP has the story.

  • Nobody’s hero: Remember the Gettysburg flag burning hoax from July 4? The Washington Post found the guy who pulled it off. He’s a 38-year-old from the Pittsburgh area by the name of Adam Rahuba.

  • Idiots: Some Nazis held a rally in Williamsport over the weekend. Emily Previti was there and noted that counter protesters outnumbered the 20 or so Nazis who showed up.  Nazis, people. 2020. Nazis. Really?

  • Justified? Police in Allentown say an officer didn’t violate use-of-force guidelines when he put his knee on a man’s neck during an arrest on July 11, WLVR reports. Video of the incident set off a week of protests in the city, with activists saying they are even more committed to reforming law enforcement than they were after George Floyd’s killing on Memorial Day.

  • Bending toward justice: Sunday’s LNP featured a great story by Mike Andrelczyk about civil rights protests in Lancaster in the summer of 1963, the same summer book-ended by George Wallace’s segregationist stunt at the University of Alabama and Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. The men and women who helped tear down segregationist policies in Lancaster told Andrelczyk that the Black Lives Matter movement makes them more hopeful today than they were nearly 60 years ago.

Remembering John Lewis


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