Face Mask Policies: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good: A Great Read

Available at Taylor & Francis Online, “Critical Public Health is an international journal publishing innovative research into public health and health promotion, including health and policy issues“. According to Wikipedia “Critical Public Health is a quarterly peer-reviewed public health journal. It was established in 1979 as Radical Community Medicine, obtaining its current name in 1990. It is published by Routledge and the editors-in-chief are Judith Green and Lindsay McLaren“.

The Bad: Poor Policy

Robert Dingwall recently made headlines in the UK by calling for a “sense of proportion” and criticising government for promoting the environment of fear which has gripped our world in the face of Covid-19. He co-authored this article at Critical Public Health, reviewing the debate about whether or not face masks should be recommended for public protection against Covid-19. The authors argue that rushed policy changes promoted by a narrow range of expertise bypasses proper scrutiny of the issue. They provide detail of five main points against promoting mass use of face masks, being:

  1. Limited evidence of effectiveness;
  2. Proper use of facemasks, which even health care workers find challenging, cannot be guaranteed and improper use can lead to increased risk of infection;
  3. Facemasks can lead to a false sense of security and relaxing of other, more effective prevention measures (eg reduced hand washing);
  4. Adverse social consequences such as reduced availability of masks in settings where they are needed, eg hospitals; promotion of mask wearing as a virtuous behaviour leading to stigmatisation and abuse of anyone without a mask;
  5. Promotion of face mask use is a complex intervention requiring scientific rigour rather than blunt policy imposition which can be very challenging to revise once in place.

The Ugly

Fishing for Facemasks
Note the position of the teacher’s mask – beneath her nostrils.

A teacher wears a mask with zero effectiveness due to improper use. In a childhood setting where measures are completely unnecessary given the extremely low risk children face of illness and their very low risk of transmission to others if they are infected.


11 thoughts on “Face Mask Policies: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. Succinct & makes a good point Helen. I consider that the mask makers will be the ones to have the best results from this huge drive to make us wear their product.

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  2. Something that bothers me is forcing school children to wear masks. I suffer from allergic rhinitis/sinusitis. Routinely I have trouble getting to sleep because I cannot breathe. I have had this condition from elementary school. Such children are not exempted from wearing masks. I would speculate because approx ten percent of children have conditions which impair breathing the exemption would encourage other parents to demand their children be exempted too. Like a fool I accepted the propaganda that people in my case can wear masks safely. Recently being required to be indoors wearing a mask in a shop, due to the queue I became disoriented, my balance was affected, I was sweating profusely, I became forgetful, confused, agitated, irrational, unable to focus, and switched as if instantly to a personality the opposite of my easy going nature. I didn’t realise at the time something was wrong, only about three hours later. I am not an anxious person and I don’t suffer from panic attacks. I dread to think what would have happened to me at school under the mask mandate. Either in trouble with the school for behaviour not under my control or targeted by other kids for not suffering a mask when they have to. Why is this issue being ignored especially by medical people who should know better?

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    1. I don’t know why so many issues are being ignored by people who know better. The only thing I can think of is that Groupthink has taken us over. There’s also the fact that some feel obliged to tow a certain line for fear of risking their positions at work.

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      1. That last is certainly true. Most of us are dependant on our incomes. I would hate to be a parent these days and I feel sorry for the kids. Masks – another burden on families and cause of distress, conflict and division.

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  3. If schools were honest about masks being harmless they would permit children to wear oximeters and remove their masks when the alarm goes off. That would be an objective indicator. ( I know they don’t always work with some conditions).

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    1. But your Sa02 may not change despite breathing challenges so not sure how useful that is. May just add another layer of Kludge to the existing layers which are leading to so much chaos and confusion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah – you’ve got me there, I’ll have to look it up. Just trying to find a way some kid can avoid being fobbed off with – it’s your imagination, when it’s real. Frankly for some kids masks are more than discomfort, but torture and damage.

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      2. No need whatsoever for kids to be gadding around in masks. It is not supported at all by the science of what masks are for. Children also cannot wear them as they should be worn (requires infection control training at baseline and frequent refreshers)

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  4. Completely agree. But it has been rolled out in UK schools and affects my sister’s grand-children in America. Teens have enough stress in their lives without adding to it gratuitously. You expect more from adults.

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