New Jersey’s K-12 kids are heading back to school next week, Save Jerseyans, and they’re expect to mask up… or else.
Governor Murphy (freshly back from the Hamptons) is continuing to level threats against any school board that considers declining to enforce his mandate.
“We will not take lightly to any district or any school that tries to finagle their way out of their responsibility to protect public health,” Murphy tweeted on Monday.
REMINDER: All individuals inside a school must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
We will not take lightly to any district or any school that tries to finagle their way out of their responsibility to protect public health. pic.twitter.com/QbcdM8XPWE
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 30, 2021
Juvenile threats from Murphy aside, does masking school kids actually “protect public health”? It’s a question, strangely enough, that far too few engaged in this debate elect to broach.
To date, most objections from parents and politicians to the tyrannical mandates have focused on constitutional and quasi-constitutional arguments. I get that. For example, here in New Jersey, Phil Murphy has ruled New Jersey with an iron fist since March 2020, and it’s only natural to target the outrageous process behind Murphy’s ham-handed mandates.
Still, if you believe the polls, masks remain popular or at least aren’t unpopular in New Jersey.
My theory: critics continue to err by failing to challenge not just the process but the substantive rationale purportedly underpinning Phil Murphy’s mask mandate.
COVID-19 vaccines are still very effective and overwhelmingly safe, folks. They work, defined here as preventing hospitalization and death – the only criteria which should matter in the public policy arena. They still shouldn’t be mandated. On the other hand, surgical and cloth masks are surprisingly ineffective and, for many children, are associated with more potential drawbacks than benefits in a classroom environment. Why mandate something that doesn’t do much to help regardless of constitutionality? This shouldn’t even be a discussion. The available data simply doesn’t support mandatory masking.
Maskers’ data problem has existed since the early days of the pandemic and not much has changed to help their case despite the passage of time. In April 2020, a University of Minnesota study concluded “that cloth masks and face coverings are likely to have limited impact on lowering COVID-19 transmission, because they have minimal ability to prevent the emission of small particles, offer limited personal protection with respect to small particle inhalation, and should not be recommended as a replacement for physical distancing or reducing time in enclosed spaces with many potentially infectious people…”
“We are very concerned about messaging that suggests cloth masks or face coverings can replace physical distancing. We also worry that the public doesn’t understand the limitations of cloth masks and face coverings when we observe how many people wear their mask under their nose or even under their mouth, remove their masks when talking to someone nearby, or fail to practice physical distancing when wearing a mask.”
The picture is arguably even clearer in the school house context. We have some data now that we’re 1 1/2 years into this thing.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own data backs me up. The CDC followed 90,000 Georgia elementary school students spread out over 169 schools late last year. Between November 16th and December 11th, the CDC compiled data and discovered… drum roll, please… no significant difference brought about by masking in arresting infections (here’s the link to the study).
No one should be surprised! Unless you’re wearing an N95, that surgical or cloth mask adorning your face provides somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes of protection at best depending upon a couple of variables. Uncoincidentally, a recent study by the University of Waterloo found cloth and surgical masks’ effectiveness rate in the basement at 10%. Some of that shockingly low number can be attributed to poor mask usage (failing to cover the nose), but that caveat serves as a further argument against expecting kids to wear the damn things.
And just in case you “citizens of the world” were wondering, American Leftists are very much alone on Mask Island. In a very well-researched August 2021 article, New York Magazine‘s David Zweig observed how “many of America’s peer nations around the world — including the U.K., Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy — have exempted kids, with varying age cutoffs, from wearing masks in classrooms” and nevertheless haven’t seen major spikes in negative outcomes. Do viruses function differently across the Atlantic?
Notwithstanding everything set forth above, America’s political class continues to pretend masking kids is the painfully obvious way to go, and any dissent is treated as treason (see Murphy’s remarks above).
“The reason for what the [American] Academy [of Pediatrics] did was because of the high degree of infection dynamics that we’re seeing,” Fauci told CBS in late July, citing the Academy’s mask guidance. “If you look at the map of the country right now, there’s an uptick in cases in virtually all the states in the United States. And for that reason, they want to go the extra mile to make sure that the children are protected in school.”
Masks on K-12 students don’t appear to confer an “extra mile” of benefit, do they? Not when you remove the partisan blinders and look at the available evidence.
Republicans hoping to succeed in this environment need to loudly and proudly make this point. Phil Murphy’s polling position continues to benefit from the absolutely crazy public perception that he’s done a good job tackling COVID-19. People are afraid; not every person wearing a mask at Wawa or Quickchek is virtue-signaling.
You can’t feign surprise when an unchallenged lie is treated as truth. Complaining about the unfairness of mask mandates is only half the battle. We need to challenge the “science” behind these mandates to win.