Friday, November 11, 2022

We Need Mask Mandates Now!

Here's Dr. Joe Vipond on mask mandates:

Hey Canada, it's time we talked about mask mandates: What they do, why they're important, and what we've learned from the past.

A mask mandate simply means a law that requires universal mask use in a certain situation (schools, work, public spaces, etc.). It's usually coupled with some kind of penalty, the simplest being lack of entry, but could be fines or other penalty. The intent of a mandate is to increase the number of people wearing a mask. It essentially sets the social benchmark for what is deemed acceptable behaviour. We go from mask wearers being the exceptional citizens to non-mask wearers being the exceptional citizens. We saw this in Calgary. On August 1, 2020, the percentage of mask wearers went from around 15% to 85% overnight.

We now see a similar trajectory towards a mask mandate in Canada, with Ottawa leading the way. Baseline mask use has probably (by my eye) been about 5%. We hope this will increase with increasing exhortations to wear a mask. So we'll go from "now you need to wear a mask," "no, really it's quite important," "goddamn it we're drowning here, will you for god sakes wear a mask," and maybe we'll boost the mask use to 20, 30, or even 45%. It simply won't be enough to bend the curve. If we know (and we know) that we'll eventually end up with a mask mandate (because exhortations don't work well enough), the earlier we do it in the curve, the better. So why not skip the "pretty please" steps and go right to what's worked in the past??

It's time to learn from our mistakes from the past. I'm sharing two op/eds. I wrote or co-wrote in April/May 2020, which still stand the test of time: "The case for mandatory mask-wearing in Canada," and "Want to save lives and the economy? We need mandatory masks laws." We have, of course, the additional challenge in my home province of a premier who has stated there will never be further protections enacted on covid in any scenario, which scares the bejesus out of me. But that shouldn't stop other jurisdictions from protecting its citizens.

The one thing that has changed is we know that COVID is predominantly transmitted through airborne means. Which means cloth masks, and even surgical masks, are insufficient. We need to educate the public on respirator masks (N95s), and provide them to those that can't afford them. So the great experiment may be launched, yet again. We'll have to learn our lessons one more time, as some jurisdictions care about their citizens and others don't. Leadership matters. Vote wisely, folks.

If we have to wait to vote Ford out, think of how many will die or be disabled before then. Some are suggesting the refusal to even mention masks in political or public health comms is intentional because healthcare for the elderly will be too costly in the next decade, so we need them to die faster, and the fact that so many kids, particularly the under-vaccinated under 5s, is just collateral damage. Unnerving to consider.

And my contribution to the cause today:

ETA: Moore will URGE masks, but not mandate them. You have officially been URGED!


Anonymous said...

Mask mandates don't work..
that is why they were dropped
Feel free to try and bend that curve!

Marie Snyder said...

This is dangerous misinformation. BUT masks aren't 100% and the mask types have different effectiveness. A cloth mask and surgical mask will help protect others, but do little to protect yourself. They still work in that they reduce transmission, though. But an N95 that fits tightly (headstraps, not ear loops), significantly stops the virus for the wearer. Where there are mandates, there are fewer cases, period. Here's a whole list of studies that show effectiveness. The clearest evidence isn't a research experiment, but happened by chance. In Alberta, some school boards kept mandates and others dropped them, and there were three times the outbreaks in boards without mask mandates.

Mandates were dropped to appease the loudest, most violent people and the richest. Governments avoid them to keep the peace and to keep people shopping and travelling and going to restaurants and bars despite the number of children who need to be in a pediatric ICU, but there isn't any room for them. It's a choice.

Marie Snyder said...

Also, you don't have to go to some special facility to get an N95 fit tested. You can do it yourself with a plastic bag and spray bottle of lemon juice (check out videos online) OR just cover the mask part and try to inhale to check for gaps around the edges. In lieu of a fit test, and since I bike everywhere and move around a lot, I use physio tape to seal my mask to my face! I watch so many with surgical and cloth masks constantly have to adjust it or pull them up over and over, but mine stays put! I put it on before leaving the house and don't even think about it. AND I rotate them daily, each week - so I just need 5/month. For less than the cost of a latte/month, I've protected myself, my family, and everyone I'm near from a life-threatening virus.