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Memo to officials: Mask rules based on fear, not science

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Each of you are receiving this information and notice because you signed the various orders issued by the Jackson-Madison County Health Department over a period of several months of the year 2020 concerning various actions required related to the declared global pandemic of the disease COVID-19. 

In particular this information deals with the benefits and harm of face masks and coverings and brings forth some of the science developed over the past hundred years.

Danny Murphy resides in Jackson, Tenn.

[Danny Murphy has sent this letter to Kim Tedford, regional director of the Jackson-Madison County (Tenn.) Health Department; Jimmy Harris, Madison County mayor; and Scott Conger, mayor of Jackson]

Officials of various levels and functions have referred to the science behind the actions they called for but few if any presented the science to which they referred while various front line doctors, medical workers and researchers with actual experience and experimental results are censored from presenting their information and some punished for making the attempt. 

 Some of those same authorities who advocated the wearing of face masks have demonstrated their disbelief in the practice when they were unaware that they were being observed.  In the beginning, Dr. Fauci indicated several times on camera that masks were not useful in prevention of infection by the Cornovirus.  United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that masks are not effective:

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 News reports indicate that South Dakota and Sweden fared better through the pandemic without hard lockdowns and mask wearing than did many of the states where such measures were implemented.

 Since the orders referenced above appear to have been allowed to expire, the information provided here may be considered for future reference so that the extensive harm caused to great swaths of society might be avoided in the future.

 The first publication for consideration is an article from the May 21, 2020 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine titled “Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era.”  Early on the article states:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.

 Later, masks are referred to as talismans:

It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals.

The second publication is a review of peer-reviewed medical literature examining the effectiveness and safety of face masks. A study published in the January 1920 issue of the  American Journal of Public Health concluded:

Masks have not been proved efficient enough to warrant compulsory application for the checking of epidemics … It ought to settle the much argued question of masks for the public.

 Another study published in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1981) vol. 63 summarized its findings thusly:

 No masks were worn in one operating theatre for 6 months.  There was no increase in the incidence of wound infection.

 A recent 2020 article reviewing different measures employed for reducing transmission of influenza was made available by the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cited “Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(5), 967-975.”  For the use of face masks, the article found:

 In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51–1.20; I2 = 30%, p = 0.25).

 Although, there may have been some misplaced belief that face masks really do help reduce the transmission of infection due to the tradition of their use, better information necessitates reevaluation of requiring such use.

“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
John F. Kennedy, Commencement Address at Yale University, June 11, 1962

Whether performed in 1920, 2020, or some date between, science has consistently found no significant benefit for the use of face masks for reduction of the transmission of infectious agents.

 With this new insight on the effectiveness of previously issued orders, you might better evaluate information being used for future decisions and not find yourselves in the position of having been an advocate for some superstitious practice such as using a talisman for protection from evil spirits.

The Tulis Report is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.

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