Letter: You need M, A, S, K to spell ‘make it to spring’

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’ve been reminded a lot lately of three great things to know: Fall in Western North Carolina is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, elections do eventually end and wearing masks during a pandemic saves lives. You can take my word on the first two, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will back me up on the mask claim. In fact, the CDC recently updated its findings to show that mask-wearing not only protects nearby people, it helps the person wearing the mask stay safe, too [avl.mx/8qa]. Huzzah!

Thank you to those already consistently and correctly donning face coverings. I see you. I pass you in the grocery store, nod at you and your dog out walking, and am grateful for you improving public safety while you’re hard at work at your job. And I know you’re dealing with “maskne,” fogged glasses, muffled voices — it can be annoying. But you have the power to save lives! Every day! You and a little rectangle of fabric are going to get us through this fall and winter.

I get it. Pandemic fatigue is real. My March 2020 self would be shocked by the risks I was taking by the end of the summer in an attempt to have things feel normal again. But now North Carolina’s infection numbers are breaking records, and with the holidays approaching, they’re likely to get worse before they get better [avl.mx/8qb].

Kudos to Gov. Roy Cooper for smartly lowering limits on indoor gatherings [avl.mx/8qc]. We don’t need any more superspreader events before we have a safe and effective vaccine. So please join me in putting on a jacket and a mask and going outside to support our local businesses and community at a safe distance!

— Mary Ellen M. Kustin


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16 thoughts on “Letter: You need M, A, S, K to spell ‘make it to spring’

  1. C-Law

    Remember this that was memory-holed by the media?


    “We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.”

    That was perjury.

    He knew it when he said it, but worse, in July Redfield said this:


    “Because cloth face coverings can also allow states to more safely ease stay-at-home orders and business closings, Redfield told a JAMA Live webcast Tuesday, “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.”

    Well, we did that in multiple states and locales. Many states did so, or had already done so, statewide including Hawaii, Michigan, Alabama and many more. All passed ordnances or issued executive orders mandating masks.

    Such is the power of argument from authority, one of the many logical fallacies that have defined our nation for the last several decades rather than demanding that Redfield win his debate by the preponderance of evidence with the person arguing for the mandate or other change being forced to overcome the null hypothesis before their solution is considered.

    Over the summer and early fall many people trumpeted the “success” of these states and locales. Our own Governor Cooper did so, cherry-picking his data and cleverly omitting the first month in which cases rose, claiming great success. He was not alone; myriad other Governors and Mayors did so as well.

    After all, it was just four, six or eight weeks, right?

    We didn’t learn a damn thing from the so-called “two weeks to slow the spread” scam, did we? Apparently not because we let them have Round #2 in the summer with masks!

    Well, now it’s been five months, not four, six or eight weeks — and every one of those locales and states has had their claims blow up in their face.

    And not a little either.

    Our state has seen cases rise to multiples over what they were in the summer months two months after the mandate was put into effect. It remains in effect today, and has done exactly nothing.

    No matter where you look you see the same thing. State after state after state put in mandates and their claims of “success” were false.

    Being wrong happens. But Redfield has not retracted or apologized for his wrong statement. He has in fact doubled down on it. Fauci has claimed we have to wear masks all the way to 2022!

    What they “prescribed” was fraud and they damn well knew it as there is forty years of hard scientific evidence of same.

    Cochrane has now added to the pile of conclusive proof with a systematic review of dozens of studies, concluding that not only do ordinary cloth masks not work even N95s when used by trained professionals do not stop viral transmission.


    Never mind the recent Dutch study specific to Covid-19 that Annals published with an attempt to weasel-word out of the actual conclusion — masks do not work.


    What’s worse is that both the Dutch study and Cochrane found that when sub-divided for compliance, that is, when you took the best compliance subsets in both cases the relative risk and confidence intervals both went the wrong way — toward higher, rather than lower, risk. That is worse than the null hypothesis (masks do nothing) in that it strongly implies they do harm.

    • bsummers

      “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control”… Well, we did that in multiple states and locales.

      What do you mean we? People like you have been trying to talk others out of wearing masks from the very beginning. We never had a chance to see if proper mask wearing etc. would reduce the pandemic, because so many covidiots refused to go along.

      I know, you felt like you had to, because Orange Julius made it clear that he thought his only chance at reelection was to downplay the pandemic.

      And since we now live in the United States of Apophenia™, up is down and black is white. Gullible, angry, fear-motivated people can be convinced of anything.

      “the human tendency to see connections and patterns that are not really there—gives rise to conspiracy theories.”

    • North Asheville

      C-Law states, “Cochrane has now added to the pile of conclusive proof with a systematic review of dozens of studies, concluding that not only do ordinary cloth masks not work even N95s when used by trained professionals do not stop viral transmission. ”
      But the study C-Law cites does not offer “conclusive proof.” It is much more nuanced:

      “How reliable are these results?
      Our confidence in these results is generally low for the subjective outcomes related to respiratory illness, but moderate for the more precisely defined laboratory‐confirmed respiratory virus infection, related to masks and N95/P2 respirators. The results might change when further evidence becomes available. Relatively low numbers of people followed the guidance about wearing masks or about hand hygiene, which may have affected the results of the studies.
      Key messages
      We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.
      . The observed lack of effect of mask wearing in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in our review has many potential reasons, including: poor study design; insufficiently powered studies arising from low viral circulation in some studies; lower compliance with mask wearing, especially among children; quality of the masks used; self‐contamination of the mask by hands; lack of protection from eye exposure from respiratory droplets (allowing a route of entry of respiratory viruses into the nose via the lacrimal duct); saturation of masks with saliva from extended use (promoting virus survival in proteinaceous material); and risk compensation behaviour leading to an exaggerated sense of security
      Hand hygiene programmes may help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.

    • Lou

      Maybe you could get your own column here because many of us are real tired of seeing your plethora of ridiculously long -winded comments. You may think more highly of yourself then anyone else so please…brevity. Who died and made you the expert on EVERY DAMN THING???

  2. Mike

    Please cite for me ONE scientific study that indicates that “homebrew” or “walmart grade ” masks do ANYTHING positive in preventing infection .. I have looked without success. The recently published Danish study showed no significant benefit. OTOH no scientific studies show they cause harm either. So if they make you feel better, go for it.

    • Will

      “Efficacy of face mask in preventing respiratory virus transmission: A systematic review and meta-analysis” is pretty convincing.

      • bsummers

        Study? Shmudy. Contradicting facts don’t register when you already have the truth you want.

      • Mike

        So is this. “Efficacy of cloth face mask in prevention of novel coronavirus infection transmission: A systematic review and meta-analysis ”

        Results: Cloth face masks show minimum efficacy in source control than the medical grade mask. The efficacy of cloth face masks filtration varies and depends on the type of material used, number of layers, and degree of moisture in mask and fitting of mask on face.

        Conclusion: Cloth face masks have limited efficacy in combating viral infection transmission. However, it may be used in closed, crowded indoor, and outdoor public spaces involving physical proximity to prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

        Just as with AGCC the science is NOT “settled.

        • bsummers

          What you’ve done is make a good argument for wearing higher quality masks. N95 and surgical-grade masks are inexpensive and widely available.

    • bsummers

      Indonesia is making anti-maskers dig the graves for Covid-19 victims. I look forward to similar punishment for local death cultists.

      • Mike

        You folks are SO sadly filled with HATE for those with whom you disagree :-(

        • bsummers

          It only sounds like hate if you’re determined not to hear the truth. Even Trump-fluffers Fox & Friends finally get it: “Apparently, masks work.”

          STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I read a great survey, and — they looked at the scientific data in my home state of Kansas. In the month of July, they had a statewide mandate for masks. Now the problem with Kansas was, some counties would actually enforce it and other counties would not. In the counties that enforced the mask mandate, the number of cases of coronavirus actually went way down. And in the counties where they did not enforce the mask mandate, it went way up.

          AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Really?

          DOOCY: Yeah.

          EARHARDT: Huh. You just have to do it smartly and do it safely.

          DOOCY: It means — apparently, masks work.


        • Lou

          Stop gaslighting. We all know your kind by now. You are sad, ignorant folks who just need to go away. Trump lost, democracy won and I look forward to hefty fines for those of you who continue to deny the necessity for measures put in place to fight this pandemic.

      • Lou

        I would ask all these dangerously ignorant anti-maskers, should they contract COVID, to stay the hell home and out of hospitals so that those of us who actually care about our community get treated first.

    • Big Al

      While the specific scientific study is not identified, an excellent physician-authored article on multiple layers of pandemic defense in the Nov. 14-15 Wall Street Journal states:

      ” A mask with just 50% efficacy in reducing droplet transmission worn by just 50% of people can reduce infectiousness of the virus from 2.4 new cases per old case to about 1.35, which is roughly the level of seasonal influenza. This means that, in a no-mask scenario, if there were 100 cases of such an infection at the beginning of the month, there would be 31,280 cases at the end of the month; in a mask scenario, there would be only 584.”

      The same article also states that even if a vaccine is available and mass-distributed between December 2020 and the Spring of 2021, the U.S. can still look forward to a high number of cases and the resulting restrictions and precautions for another year.

      M.A.S.K. really means “make it to Spring 2022”.

  3. G Man

    Same ol, same ol. Star-bellied sneetches and those who had none. Every time I go out in public, albeit rarely, I observe most people that I encounter are wearing a mask. Some wear it correctly, a few have chin diapers, some have high quality masks, some have what looks like old gym socks wrapped around their face. Regardless, I would estimate that 98% or more are “masked”. We have been doing this for months now and keep being told we are following the science, although the science doesn’t really exist and we seem to ignore the fact that we have been doing this for many months and the spread seems to be getting worse. But, by all means, let’s keep trying to do the same thing and wait for a different result.

    One thing that never changes, is that satanically hateful bunch who seems to believe that the reason the lockdowns didn’t work is because of that one guy at the Home Depot who had no mask on that one Saturday 3 months ago so now we need to start all over again and make it stricter this time. Then since the definitive strong-hand tactic doesn’t work, let’s up the ante on shaming every person we see without a mask and make nasty public statements about how sick and sub-human those people are for messing up our perfect system of mask wearing to “control” the virus. I have never, not one time, heard anyone try to convince anybody else not to wear a mask.

    Let’s talk about who the real cult members are. They are the ones who think it is ok to threaten, wish death or severe sickness, and offer up punishments for those who dare to have a belief different from themselves. You may not recognize who you are, but the rest of us do. If the 98% of us who do, in fact, wear our masks regularly when in public isn’t enough for you then stay the f#@^ home until you get the “all clear”. Shine up that star for us.

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