Time to mask up. They work. Tell the anti-maskers. Tell everybody.

I want to do a group ride again. Feel the speed, hear the whirring, enjoy the mental focus, the leg and lung power, the coordination, and the fun of pushing friends and fellow revelers along.

My last group ride was mid-March. As we rolled out, the guy I was rolling with said, ‘you know, this is probably the last group ride we’re going to do for a long time.’ The friend has family in Italy and their hospitals were filling up. ‘Even if we’re fine, we shouldn’t be risking going to the hospital over a bike ride.’

I also want mass-start bike races and rides to return.  Fans to flock to the roadside to see races, people to gather at cafe’s and deli’s mid- and post-ride.  I want to safely go for an indoor meal at a crowded restaurant.

But this desire is rooted in the necessity of defeating Covid. Life cannot return to “normal” until Covid is tamed.  Kids should be back in school.  People with compromised immune systems should be able to get out and about without fearing death.  People should be able to go to work without worrying about dying for a lousy paycheck.  But they can’t.  Before anyone gets to thinking this ignores the real harm to the economy, know that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was warning in June that the United States economy wouldn’t recover until we had Covid controlled. And he’s still talking about those problems because we haven’t controlled it.

I thought or hoped then we’d be done with Covid by now. I’ve been trying to do my part—social distancing, mask wearing when around others, almost no social time indoors, and so on—as have many.  Seems like a pretty small price to pay; people manage to wear pants without a fight.  So wrong. Apparently, not enough of us are of the same mindset. North Dakota currently has 176.7 cases per 100,000, with South Dakota not far behind, and Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Montana all having more than 100 cases per 100,000.  250,000 dead in the US is a tragedy.  So is over a million dead worldwide.  This scale of death was preventable.

I don’t want to tell people what to do.  But too many people certainly haven’t figured it out on their own.

So annoyed I am with the minimizers, misleaders, and liars, I feel compelled to take my swing at reducing the influence of these malign actors. Misinformation and disinformation is so rampant, and as the old saw goes, it’s traveling around the world before the truth gets out of bed.

It’s easy to lie. Proving the liars wrong takes time.

The Internet and social media have made shit information more prevalent, and possibly harder to rebut. To that end, I want to help address how to see bad information for what it is, so at least we don’t spread it. I’d love to convince the people sharing the anti-mask lies to stop, but since they probably won’t like being corrected, I hope that the other people they share it with can be swayed.

So, short form.

Masks work. Really. Really really.

Really. Really really.

More evidence. Even more evidence. Even more more evidence. More even more evidence.

CDC advice.

OSHA advice.

Mayo Clinic advice.

 

FIRST, THE REALLY BAD NEWS

Some people, like Trump Covid advisor Scott Atlas, claim “herd immunity” is a strategy (though once he did it, he’s been sort of, kind of been trying to take it back though he’s not, like really not). The number of people that need to be infected is unknown. Some experts put it over 70%, though other experts imagine it needs to be at least 50%. Let’s take a middle number, 60%. Currently, the worldwide case fatality rate is 2.3% (52.9 million cases, 1.2 million deaths reported as of 11/13/20), which isn’t the same as the infection fatality rate, which would probably be more accurate. Still, it’s something to work with. Assuming a US population of 330 million people, 60% of that number would be 198 million to get to herd immunity. 2.2% (current US case fatality rate) of 198 million is 4.356,000 deaths in the US. Even if the case fatality rate drops to 1%, that’s still 1,980,000 deaths. There are approximately 7.7-billion people in the world today. Assuming 60% to herd immunity that would be nearly 103 million deaths. (Johns Hopkins University has an excellent mortality tracker).

Merely pretending Covid-19 is no big deal would has proven to be disastrous, not only to individuals, families, and the economy, but to humanity. Mask wearing seems like the least we can do.

I bring up a possible worst-case scenario because, whether or not anti-maskers are stating it explicitly, they are essentially advocating for the herd immunity strategy. It is the do-nothing, let-nature-take-its-course choice.

 

IF YOU WANT AN EXAMPLE OF HOW DIFFERENT RESPONSES CAN BE

Look at South Korea.

They had their first diagnosed case of Covd-19 the same day as the US. January 21, 2020. They took masking and contact tracing seriously from the start.

They, a nation of 51 million, have had 494 known deaths out of 28,769 known cases.

The US has approximately 330,000,000 residents. That’s 6.47 times the population of South Korea. If we had the kind of fatalities as South Korea, there would be 3,196. Covid deaths by now.

 

THE TWO KINDS OF ANTI-MASK DISINFORMATION

I see two kinds of anti-mask disinformation most often. The first is a rant. These seem easier to debunk, but they seem to get shared more than news. It’s as if the people are moved by the feeling that the rant evokes, and that leads them to overlook the factual limitations of the rant. The second is the news article. These are harder to debunk because the platform lends credence and assertions can be convincing. All the same, it’s the assertions are typically where the lying occurs. And that is where the articles fall down.

 

BUT, AS DEBUNKING TAKES UP MORE TIME THAN BUNKING,

The take down gets long. I’ll post a detailed explanation of a false and misleading rant tomorrow. Then, the day after, I’ll detail how a news article misleads.

In the short term, remember:

Masks work. Really. Really really.

Really. Really really.

More evidence. Even more evidence. Even more more evidence. More even more evidence.

CDC advice.

OSHA advice.

Mayo Clinic advice.

Write more tomorrow.

 

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