CDC’s sloppy “Scientific Brief” adds nothing to the evidence for masks

BY MEGAN MANSELL

Let’s look at this oh-so-sloppy CDC Scientific Brief: “Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2,” which recommends “community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

Really? OSHA doesn’t recommend cloth masks, as cloth masks have no production control variables to measure or assert percentage efficacy.  I suppose you could say they provide, at a minimum, 0% efficacy, and that would be an appropriate percentage, but you cannot assert percentage efficacy when you have unknown variables. This is why governing agencies like OSHA are critical–they prevent workplaces from knowingly exposing their workers to harmful substances and diseases, with corresponding grades of personal protective equipment (PPE) for each contagion type and applicable particulate behavior. 

Primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets

The unnamed authors go on to say, “Masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets.”

That’s nice, but COVID is an airborne contagion, a fact the CDC now readily acknowledges. Our commercially-available masks (the only ones with known control variables in production) filter exhale at 4 microns or greater. COVID measures 0.06-1.4 microns. 

Masks make small particulates more airborne. How? By way of forced filtration. During a plosive force generating event (cough, sneeze, scream) within a mask, only particles larger than 4 microns are blocked/trapped. Masks cause an increase in atmospheric viral load, and the masks most people wear do not filter COVID on inhale. Instead of protecting others around the wearer, masks are only permitting particles smaller than that 4 micron threshold to escape.

You do the math – no wait, I’ll do it for you.

4-.06=3.94

4-1.4=2.6

The differences above describe the space left in the mask exhale openings when COVID particles (0.06-1.4 microns) are exhaled and then pressurized aloft during a plosive event.

Once a plosive force-generating event has caused this forced filtration, these tiny COVID particles do not respond predictably to gravity and can remain suspended aloft for extended periods. The proper PPE for COVID particulate types must account for Brownian Motion in order to effectively filter these fine particulates. 

Reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer

The next claim is “Masks help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer.”

Sure, which is why similarly-porous masks are used in surgery–for large particles. Again, surgical masks and cloth masks are expressly not for use with airborne particulates. The baseline minimum PPE for COVID-size particulates is an N95 or higher grade respirator plus eye protection.

Touting lesser-grade PPE as protection against COVID may be killing people by way of a false sense of security, and requiring the use of inappropriate PPE for a known contagion or particulate filtration designation is a massive OSHA violation.

Can block up to 50-70% of these fine droplets

“Multi-layer cloth masks can… block up to 50-70% of these fine droplets” should be corrected to say: “We obviously can’t assert percent efficacy on unknown variables, but we know that 20-50% of fine particles get through cloth masks, and minimal viral load is required – especially if aerosolized – in order to transmit COVID.”

The entire section titled “Filtration for Personal Protection” is a laugh. It says there are no control variables with cloth masks, but the authors are still trying to use data “limited to observational and epidemiological studies” to pass utter hooey off as relevant public information.

They further cite a Thailand-based case study claiming 70% reduced risk due to mass masking, but in the U.S., we have 71% of new cases reporting as always masking and 14% of cases reporting that they mask most of the time.

Mass masking is not the answer for reopening society.  This is: https://rationalground.com/a-rational-reopening-guide/

Multifaceted solutions that respect individuals

Our society needs multifaceted solutions that honor the voices of all citizens as equals, and our governing bodies need to stop spreading do-gooder misinformation instead of asserting baselines with known efficacy, acknowledging and correcting supply chain issues with proper PPE, and restoring the free will of our people by upholding current anti-discrimination law and following contagion particulate-based containment protocol. This new normal of lockdowns and a global society is bent on stripping all citizens of all rights, equally. 

Equally horrible is still equality, right?