The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aloud said the quiet part last week: The masks are here to stay. The government is now normalizing the ‘new normal’ of a masked American society, and not just for Covid-19.
“The evidence is clear: masks can help reduce your risk of Covid-19 infection by more than 80%,” Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a new government promotional YouTube video. “The masks also help protect against the flu, coronavirus or even just the common cold. In combination with other steps like getting vaccinated, washing your hands, and keeping a physical distance, wearing your mask is an important step you can take to keep us all healthy. ”
His video remarks answered the often asked question, “Why do I still need to wear a mask?”
Americans in many communities have been wearing masks for more than 18 months, with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has consistently supported the wearing of masks. That is, after the first weeks of the pandemic, when even Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, said that wearing masks no was not helpful.
On March 8, 2020, Fauci said, “There is no reason to walk around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask can help people feel a little better and can even block a droplet, but it doesn’t provide the perfect protection people think it is. . And, often there are unintended consequences – people keep playing with the mask and keep touching their face. “
His remarks came during a 60-minute CBS interview. In a 2020 memo, he wrote: “The masks are really meant for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to uninfected people rather than protecting uninfected people from infection. The typical mask you buy at a drugstore is not really effective at preventing the virus from entering, which is small enough to pass through the material. However, it might provide a slight benefit in preventing coarse droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.
He later said the comment needed context:
“I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPE, ”he said in an interview with CBS Evening News.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink also said in 2020 that masks are not helpful in preventing transmission of the virus.
On February 12, 2020, Zink told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that a person wearing a mask breathes in a humid and humid environment collecting viruses and bacteria, and that it is generally not helpful. to protect against germs from other people.
In 2021, science has changed. Dr Walensky says it can reduce your chances of catching Covid by over 80%.
California and Florida are two examples of states taking different approaches to masking. In early October, transmission of Covid was stable in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom boasted on Twitter that “California continues to dominate the country with the lowest rate of COVID cases and as the only state in the CDC’s ‘moderate transmission’ category.”
The masked-mandated Golden State is now back in transmission’s “high” red territory. California has recorded a total of 4.96 million cases since the start of the pandemic, and 72,671 deaths attributed to Covid.
Meanwhile, Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis takes a no-mask approach, is seeing cases drop. In fact, California’s transmission rate is now double that of Florida, Texas, and the rest of the Gulf Coast states.
Florida has reported 3.66 million cases of Covid and 60,334 deaths attributed to the virus. While California’s population (39 million) is larger than that of Florida (27 million), the average Florida tends to be much older and therefore more vulnerable to the ravages of Covid. California’s population over 65 is 14.3 percent, while Florida’s population 65 and over is 20.5 percent.
DeSantis told Fox interviewer Laura Ingram last week that the media suddenly lost interest in the Covid situation in Florida: “I guess Florida is no longer part of the United States. They just pretend that we don’t exist …. Now that we’re in a situation where we have very low numbers, you don’t hear any noise.
Read: Fox interview with DeSantis at this link.
But the push towards universal masking is now entering a new realm. Public universities teach professionals how to normalize mask wearing using social pressure, influential celebrities, authority figures and others. The Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania published a leaflet with helpful suggestions such as:
- “Point out that wearing a mask helps convince others to wear a mask as well.
- “Encourage parents to create rituals with their children around the wearing of the mask.
- “Advise people to wear extra masks to give to others. ”
- “Point out that masks can be fashion items that allow for self-expression. “
- “Trigger disgust and aversion to contagion by reminding people that without masks they are likely to come close with unwanted germs. “
- “When targeting certain groups, look for quotes and images emphasizing that the masks do not conflict with their values or sense of identity. that is, some men may think that wearing a mask undermines their masculinity. Quotes and images should align mask wearing with independence and strength. “
The Wharton School / UPenn flyer has many other tips that professionals can use to change audience behavior for good… or for the “good”:
Watch Dr. Walensky’s video on mask standardization here.