Following Guidelines

gordo

Well-known member
Gordo, the article you reference is from May. They've more recently posted a review from JAMA of the latest science and case studies that show that masks do prevent the spread of COVID19.
"CDC reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities. There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others."​

I would hardly call the anecdotal testimony of two hair dressers in a salon a science-based process for establishing policy.

To be effective, masks need to form an effective barrier against the virus. It does not matter if the virus is Covid19, Seasonal Flu, etc. Viruses have a specific micron size. Face masks are rated (among other things) to be barriers against particle size. E.g. they may be a barrier to dust or bacteria which are relatively large particles but be useless against smaller particles - like viruses.

AFAIK, there are no science-based studies that show consumer grade face masks being an effective barrier to viruses, like Covid 19. That's probably why the CDC initially said there was no need to wear them. And is also likely why the CDC didn't recommend the use of face masks during previous viral epidemics - like last year's seasonal season that killed some 80,000 US residents.

It is also why the quote you selected from JAMA report uses "weasel" words like: "could" and "help". The JAMA reports themselves do not reference science-based studies and make extensive use of another "weasel" word: "may". Weasel words, in legal (and marketing) parlance are used to suggest an affirmation when no affirmation can be made. Further, JAMA also included disclaimers about the validity of their report since it is not science-based and its methodology is severely flawed.

Take a close look at your face mask packaging. Here's one typical as an example (my emphasis):

mask.jpg


That disclaimer is to prevent the vendor being sued if someone buys the mask believing that it offered any protection against Covid 19 - because it doesn't. You'll find similar wording on other consumer grade face masks since all manufacturers want to avoid litigation.

If you feel better by wearing a mask, then by all means wear one. Just don't expect it to do anything to protect you or others from the virus.
 

AC Prepress

Well-known member

gordo

Well-known member

From the article - weasel words in bold:

"New research suggests that face coverings help reduce the transmission of droplets"
"facial coverings help prevent transmission"
"masks help reduce transmission"
"masks might offer some personal protection from the virus,"

These weasel words are used as a way to say something that legally, or truthfully, cannot be said. They imply an assertion when no assertion is actually made. Weasel words work by making you think you've read something that hasn't actually been written.

One of the studies cited comes with a disclaimer: "The study, which analyzed the droplet spread of a healthy volunteer after capturing it on video, hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed."

Another word that's used in the article is "believe". "Believing" is an opinion that is not based on objective reality. Many people believe in fairies - but that doesn't make fairies a reality.

"director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believes the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks"

"she believes some masks can likely filter out a majority of large viral droplets."

"She believes that, excluding N95 masks, multilayered masks with a slightly waterproof outer layer best minimize spread."

"Stanford researchers believe can better prevent virus particles" I italicized "better" because that's another weasel. "Better" suggests a quantitative amount but does not actually specify the amount. The word is meaningless.

Then there is the outright confused statement:
"The CDC doesn't recommend face shields for everyday activities or as a substitute for masks, citing a lack of evidence of their effectiveness for reducing Covid-19 spread." So, there's a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of face shields for reducing Covid-19 spread. Great. But in the next sentence (ignoring the weasel word):
"During a simulation, researchers found that wearing a face shield helped reduce exposure to an influenza-laden cough."

So there's no evidence for reducing Covid-19 spread but researchers found it helps reduce exposure. Does that mean that reducing exposure to the virus doesn't reduce the spread of the virus?

Try reading articles like these but with the weasel words removed. For example:
Instead of: "New research suggests that face coverings help reduce the transmission of droplets"
Read it as: "New research demonstrates that face coverings reduce the transmission of droplets"
Or
"masks might offer some personal protection from the virus,"
"masks offer personal protection from the virus,"

Then ask yourself - if that's what they meant...why didn't they write the sentences that way?
 
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OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
Try reading articles like these but with the weasel words removed. For example:
Instead of: "New research suggests that face coverings help reduce the transmission of droplets"
Read it as: "New research demonstrates that face coverings reduce the transmission of droplets"
Or
"masks might offer some personal protection from the virus,"
"masks offer personal protection from the virus,"

Then ask yourself - if that's what they meant...why didn't they write the sentences that way?

It's bad science to make definite statements like that. In using what you call "weasel words", a study author (or scientifically-aware journalist) is acknowledging there could be flaws or shortcomings in the study that hopefully others will tease out, or a growing body of evidence will back up or refute. Weasel words might be deceptive in the business/sales world, but they're necessary in the science world. Especially in this crisis where urgent decisions have to be made before having the benefit of a body of scientific evidence to back it up. That's why you see guidance change as that body of evidence grows over time. It's not a grand conspiracy, it's adapting to what we learn.
 

tngcas

Well-known member
It's bad science to make definite statements like that. In using what you call "weasel words", a study author (or scientifically-aware journalist) is acknowledging there could be flaws or shortcomings in the study that hopefully others will tease out, or a growing body of evidence will back up or refute.

This is exactly why scientist/researchers/doctors shouldn't be relied on to make public policy decisions. They must always make decisions on a CYA basis. They cannot allow themselves to be wrong by making definitive statements or they can be sued and/or lose their status (reputations). This means they have to advocate for the most cautious safe approach that prevents backlash against them and usually only in their specialty. They can't balance other needs (like economics). Viral doctors are cautious about viral issues, mental health doctors are cautious about mental health issues etc.

Public policy is always a balancing of risk vs. rewards. For example: We can reduce the number of car deaths in the USA (the number 1 killer of young adults) by banning cars. Instead we as a society agree that the value of using cars is more important than the value of the people's lives who are killed or permanently injured by vehicles. The risk vs. rewards argument is POLICY (actions taken based on information). WIth Covid-19, when people start talking about sensible policy that balances economics against death counts everyone says they are callous. The suicides, economic ruin, increased domestic violence, childhold social development and the lack of hope for the future are all issues that should matter at least as much as the Covid death counts.

What amount of science allows for someone to make the statement: "Research suggests mask might help slow the spread of covid" vs "Reasearch has proven that masks slow the spread of covid"? When it comes to non-definitive research statements - these are done entirely with bias, with people trying to spin data whatever way they're wanting to spin it. This is why they were able to spend the first three-months of the "pandemic" publishing videos and articles saying masks were not useful while begging ppl to not hoard them and then immediately spin it back to masks are the most important solution anyone has. The same group of people had two different "truths" and they used the truth that was most expedient at the time. The explanation that the science on mask and virus' suddenly changed in 2 months is absurd because while this is a "novel" virus, we as a society have plenty of experience with viruses and masks.
 
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OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
How well a policy-maker can balance risk vs. reward, as you say, is a measure of their own skill and competence. If a politician is too heavily relying on scientists, as you posit, that's not science's fault - that's a failure in competency in the politician. Turns out it's important to vote for competent politicians - a big problem in the US, obviously.

And on your complaint about how public guidance on COVID has changed since the beginning - while we do have experience with viruses and masks as a society, we don't have experience with pandemics as a society (difference in scale). The few epidemics we've experienced during the course of modern society we mostly ignored or got lucky with. Or didn't learn from.
 

alibryan

Well-known member
I would hardly call the anecdotal testimony of two hair dressers in a salon a science-based process for establishing policy.

To be effective, masks need to form an effective barrier against the virus. It does not matter if the virus is Covid19, Seasonal Flu, etc. Viruses have a specific micron size. Face masks are rated (among other things) to be barriers against particle size. E.g. they may be a barrier to dust or bacteria which are relatively large particles but be useless against smaller particles - like viruses.

AFAIK, there are no science-based studies that show consumer grade face masks being an effective barrier to viruses, like Covid 19. That's probably why the CDC initially said there was no need to wear them. And is also likely why the CDC didn't recommend the use of face masks during previous viral epidemics - like last year's seasonal season that killed some 80,000 US residents.

It is also why the quote you selected from JAMA report uses "weasel" words like: "could" and "help". The JAMA reports themselves do not reference science-based studies and make extensive use of another "weasel" word: "may". Weasel words, in legal (and marketing) parlance are used to suggest an affirmation when no affirmation can be made. Further, JAMA also included disclaimers about the validity of their report since it is not science-based and its methodology is severely flawed.

Take a close look at your face mask packaging. Here's one typical as an example (my emphasis):

View attachment 290187

That disclaimer is to prevent the vendor being sued if someone buys the mask believing that it offered any protection against Covid 19 - because it doesn't. You'll find similar wording on other consumer grade face masks since all manufacturers want to avoid litigation.

If you feel better by wearing a mask, then by all means wear one. Just don't expect it to do anything to protect you or others from the virus.
AA37DBCB-8C5C-4927-9E49-E0EAFDC36670.jpeg
 
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Possumgal

Well-known member
As far as the uncertainty of how to deal with this, we've got to remember that this virus has properties not seen before, from the long incubation period to the sometimes long-lasting after effects, to the effects on multiple systems of the body. The scientists are having to learn as they go along, so naturally the recommendations change as the knowledge increases.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Read the disclaimer on any face mask that you can buy.
I have not seen any that claim to block anything more than 0% of viruses.
They claim they block dust particles and some say they'll block bacteria. None claim that they block any virus sized particles. Because they do not. In fact some specifically state in the mouse print that they do not block viruses.
If the face mask vendors were to suggest that their consumer grade face masks - the ones the vast majority of people purchase - could block viruses they would open themselves up to being sued.
 

Joe

Well-known member
Read the disclaimer on any face mask that you can buy.
I have not seen any that claim to block anything more than 0% of viruses.
They claim they block dust particles and some say they'll block bacteria. None claim that they block any virus sized particles. Because they do not. In fact some specifically state in the mouse print that they do not block viruses.
If the face mask vendors were to suggest that their consumer grade face masks - the ones the vast majority of people purchase - could block viruses they would open themselves up to being sued.

Still Confused About Masks? Here’s the Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus
 

AP90

Well-known member
My favorite is when the CDC issued a warning saying that cloth face masks weren't acceptable to use to block out smoke particles during the wild fires out west. Then people checked and I believe a smoke particle is about 10x larger than the Cover-19 particle. Yes, makes sense
 

keith1

Well-known member
If the face mask vendors were to suggest that their consumer grade face masks - the ones the vast majority of people purchase - could block viruses they would open themselves up to being sued.
This brings to mind WMIS regulations that employees must understand for use around chemicals. It's sole purpose is designed to protect the manufacturer. Regulations pretty much state that since one is constantly handling solvents, gloves (at minimum) should be worn. What they don't say is that Workers Comp would have a fit if they came in and found employees operating machinery while wearing gloves. But solvent manufacturers say you must wear gloves. That way, when you contract some skin desease or cancer they can say; well we clearly state you must be wearing protective coverings . . .which would be completely impractical. But they don't care. They'd have you wearing a hazmat suit to operate a press if it would save their ass from litigation. Fortunately solvents are much safer now than years gone by.
 

AP90

Well-known member
My favorite part about mask and the coronavirus is that the people who are all upset about people not wearing a mask and saying they won't get vaccinated are the same ones who will turn around and say "my body, my choice" when asked about abortion. Like ok, you can't have it both ways. You can't advocate for mandatory vaccines and mask wearing and then say you have not right to govern my body about abortion.
 

alibryan

Well-known member
I think the basic idea behind wearing masks and not wearing masks is that if someone is wearing one, it helps to prevent the spreading of germs when that person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. I also think that by now, most people are fully aware that not all masks have the same effectiveness. Some are very thin, are porous, and may or may not create a complete seal around the face. Other masks are less porous, do create a better seal around the face, and some even have an electrostatically charged layer that helps filter even smaller, microscopic (nano) sized particles. So while some masks will only help to reduce the spread of viral droplets being spewed by the wearer (protecting others), still others will go even further and actually protect the wearer from inhaling any droplets that come their way (protecting others while also protecting the wearer). Regardless of which mask someone is wearing, covering your face with something, is going to be much more effective than covering it with nothing.

This is not really rocket science, it’s basic, common sense. And frankly I’m a little amazed at the lengths some people will go in trying to debunk something that is so fundamentally obvious.


“Viruses spread from person to person mainly through the tiny droplets that are produced when a person carrying the virus coughs or sneezes. Those droplets, whether we can see them or not, may fly and land on a surface. Some may land directly on the mouth, nose or eye of another person while others may land on a hard surface like a phone, doorknob or countertop. How long those particles survive on the surface varies depending on both the surface and the viral strand. For some viruses it is only a few hours; for others it can be as much as nine days. If a healthy person touches one of those surfaces and then touches their nose, mouth or eyes before washing their hands, they have transmitted the virus to themselves. If that person now carrying the virus coughs or sneezes and doesn’t disinfect the area, the virus can be transmitted again, and the cycle continues”
 
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tngcas

Well-known member
I think the basic idea behind wearing masks and not wearing masks is that if someone is wearing one, it helps to prevent the spreading of germs when that person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. I also think that by now, most people are fully aware that not all masks have the same effectiveness. Some are very thin, are porous, and may or may not create a complete seal around the face. Other masks are less porous, do create a better seal around the face, and some even have an electrostatically charged layer that helps filter even smaller, microscopic (nano) sized particles. So while some masks will only help to reduce the spread of viral droplets being spewed by the wearer (protecting others), still others will go even further and actually protect the wearer from inhaling any droplets that come their way (protecting others while also protecting the wearer). Regardless of which mask someone is wearing, covering your face with something, is going to be much more effective than covering it with nothing.

This is not really rocket science, it’s basic, common sense. And frankly I’m a little amazed at the lengths some people will go in trying to debunk something that is so fundamentally obvious.


“Viruses spread from person to person mainly through the tiny droplets that are produced when a person carrying the virus coughs or sneezes. Those droplets, whether we can see them or not, may fly and land on a surface. Some may land directly on the mouth, nose or eye of another person while others may land on a hard surface like a phone, doorknob or countertop. How long those particles survive on the surface varies depending on both the surface and the viral strand. For some viruses it is only a few hours; for others it can be as much as nine days. If a healthy person touches one of those surfaces and then touches their nose, mouth or eyes before washing their hands, they have transmitted the virus to themselves. If that person now carrying the virus coughs or sneezes and doesn’t disinfect the area, the virus can be transmitted again, and the cycle continues”
I think the major mis-understanding people have is about effectiveness over time. All filters have a time limit (air, water etc). Most study show that the time limit of effectiveness on masks as "filters" is extremely short, to the point of not being very useful unless you change and throw them away frequently. Repeated wearing of a mask that has successfully "filtered" and caught harmful pathogens in the fabric exposes the wearer to that pathogen more frequently than incidental exposure would have.

Wearing something that captures the pathogen and then gives you multiple chances to breath it in if the pathogen slips past your filter is the problem. Every time you breath in you're putting more pressure on the filter to release what it captured.

Most contaminated air lands on your skin so the most effective solution remains - don't touch your face and wash your hands frequently.
 

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