President of Doctors For Disaster Preparedness Explains COVID Masks, Distancing Not Evidence-Based

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As Covid-19 cases surge across the United States citizens are supposed to follow "evidence-based medicine" these days, but there is no firm evidence to support the masking and "social distancing" mandates being imposed throughout the land.

CDC chief Robert Redfield asserts his opinion that the U.S. could get the coronavirus under control in 4 to 6 weeks if everyone wore a mask. He relies largely on a study of masking health care workers and patients in a Massachusetts health system.

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We have had some large experiments underway. In the U.S. we have recently had thousands of protesters crowded together, chanting and shouting. We also have large homeless camps. No masks, no distancing, no handwashing, and no constant sanitizing of anything a human might have touched. Are the surges of positive tests coming from there?

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Does the absence of reports mean that it's safe to protest, at least for the correct cause, or to live on the streets? Maybe so, if you're outdoors. (Then why should anyone wear a  mask outdoors?) Maybe we just don't know because contact tracers don't ask.

Had persons who are testing positive been in Mexico, where cases are surging? (In Chula Vista, Calif., the majority of COVID-positive emergency-room patients had been in Mexico.) Were the "cases" confined to a nursing home, unable to go anywhere or even to have visitors? Were they alone except when breathing the air in a supermarket where an unmasked person might have been? We don't know.

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There is international experience, notably in Sweden. Children went to school, mask-free, behaving like normal children. There were no lockdowns. There were fewer deaths on a per-capita basis than in locked-down, economically devastated New York (see figure below). As observed on Twitter, if New York had been a drug and Sweden a placebo, the trial would have been stopped in April for ethical reasons.

You can spend $70 on a fashion mask. It is probably not FDA-certified, but an FDA certificate may be meaningless. After four hours of wear, you should wash a cloth mask and dry it in the sun.

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For a summary of the evidence, see Mask Factsthe Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, January 2020, and an extensive review by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIPRAP).


Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.

She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. 

More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

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