The Continued Politicization of Masks

If you are wondering why masks are political, look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

” The White House The National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

The President of the United States: Trump says ‘I don’t agree’ with CDC director’s mask message

In the interview, which is set to air on Fox News Sunday, Wallace referred to recent comments from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield that “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.”

“The CDC says if everybody wore a mask for four to six weeks, we could get this under control. Do you regret not wearing a mask in public from the start, and would you consider- will you consider a national mandate that people need to wear masks?” Wallace asked Trump in the interview.

“No. I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that, no,” Trump answered. “And I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears.”

This kind of talk is, without any doubt, damaging. It gives people who don’t want to wear a mask an excuse (my freedom!) and, worse, gives politicians like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp cover to issue orders that undercut city-level attempts at enhancing public health.

(And can I note, as I did in a previous post, that CDC stands for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and therefore it would be nice if we listened to them help us do their eponymous job).

In regards to Kemp, whom Trump has praised on the issue of masks, Gov. Kemp says mask mandates won’t solve issue of existing rules not being enforced:

While he personally supports wearing a mask and said “we all agree that wearing a mask is effective,” he nonetheless believes “Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing.”

He said he’s heard from law enforcement agencies who don’t believe they have the manpower to enforce a mandate. He analogized a mask mandate to speed limit laws, and said: “We have people that don’t follow government laws and mandates.”

People like Trump and Kemp can pretend like this about “freedom” or the difficulty of enforcement, but the reality is they are abdicating their responsibilities. Obviously, the ability of law enforcement in Georgia to 100% enforce a mask order is nonexistent (but of course, so is their power to 100% enforce the speed limit on I-85). The point of mask orders is not because enforcement is going to get people to “do the right thing,” it is to demonstrate that, yes, this is serious and that we are all in it together. The more layers of leadership that can agree on collective action, the more likely it is that citizens will comply.

If the manager of Costco requires masks that has one specific, and limited effect. If, however, the mayor of the city in which the Costco sits signs a mask ordinance, that has a significant reinforcing effect. If the governor of the state on which the city with a mask ordinance resides that contains the Costco issues a mask requirement, the reinforcement is greater (especially if the mayor is a Democrat and the governor a Republican, or vice versa). If the President of the United States would use his bully pulpit, the reinforcement would be even greater and more significant. Instead, as leader of one of our two political parties, his current position helps reinforce the notion that mask-wearing is a political statement.

Side note: I am in squarely in the middle for planning for students to return to campus in Fall, and our plan includes a mask requirement. It was immensely helpful for our governor to have issued a statewide mask order. It would be even better if Trump would get on board.

Further, part of the reason to pass laws is not because their passage will always lead to full compliance, but to tell the public what the rule and expectations are. By no means is it assumed that all laws will be followed only if the government has the means to assure compliance. Most people follow the law because, well, its the law.

The science is increasingly telling us that masks are our best hope, and yet we get the nonsense noted above.

From the WSJ: Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing.

The research Dr. Redfield cited included a newly published study suggesting that universal use of surgical masks helped reduce rates of confirmed Covid-19 infections among health-care workers at the Mass General Brigham health-care system in Massachusetts.

[…]

Researchers from around the world have found wearing even a basic cloth face covering is more effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19 than wearing nothing at all. And many are now examining the possibility that masks might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking that they mostly protect others.

Here is an interesting experiment that illustrates the possible benefits of masks: KHQ Investigates: How effective is a mask?

The bottom line is that we need a national effort to get people to take the virus seriously, and that means, among other things, mask-wearing. Instead we get, as per WaPo: Rancor between scientists and Trump allies threatens pandemic response as cases surge.

This week’s remarkable character assault by some top White House advisers on Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, signified President Trump’s hostility toward medical expertise and has produced a chilling effect among the government scientists and public health professionals laboring to end the pandemic, according to administration officials and health experts.

And, hence, we get things like this:

Source : https://ourworldindata.org/covid-cases

When the assessments are written, this is going to go down in history as a major, and utterly avoidable, public policy disaster.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, COVID-19, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    A report from a doctor in Alabama.

    I’m starting to think that the doctors should refuse to treat people who have caught COVID-19 and who didn’t wear masks. The doctors are overworked, the hospitals are over-crowded. Why in the heck should the doctors be forced to put their own lives at risk for people who couldn’t take responsibility for carrying out the bare minimum of personal protection?

    14
  2. James Joyner says:

    What’s interesting is there’s no controversy in Defense Department circles. Masks have been required for months in spaces where social distancing is impossible.

    8
  3. CSK says:

    Well, Michelle Malkin says that masks mandates are a menace to public health, and her fans say she has the facts to prove it.

    Those who refuse to wear masks firmly believe that mandates are a Democratic plot to force everyone to submit docilely to socialism, and that our freedoms are being taken away from us incrementally. Only Trump stands between us and Armageddon.

    3
  4. CSK says:

    @James Joyner:
    Of course there’s no controversy in the Defense Department. Like the CIA, the FBI, the State Dept., and the DOJ, it’s full of Deep Staters planning a coup against President Trump.

    20
  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Of course there’s no mask issue at the DOD. They’ve already had one “what happens when you put a bunch of people together (say, on a Navy vessel, for example)” event that didn’t work out very well. Their learning curve was bound to be compressed, if you will.

    7
  6. JohnMcC says:

    The amazing high-wire act by Gov Kemp would be hilarious if it wasn’t sort of…you know…life and death and stuff. He’s hoping that the hard-corps Trump enthusiasts will forgive him for his advocating masks if he gives them a flashing-yellow traffic light to be as nuts as they wish to be.

    In a rational world he would have to explain the distinction between what the state gov’t can do as a life-saving measure and what it can’t do. One only needs to think about that for a few seconds to realize he would find it impossible. Taking his argument at face value, the incarceration of the actual, historical Typhoid Mary was a terrible injustice.

    1
  7. MarkedMan says:

    A little off topic, but it was triggered by the photo accompanying the post. According to NYTimes, Birx was the medical professional blowing smoke up Trump’s a**hole about how it was safe to reopen.

    At another point in the linked article, I came away with the definite impression that Trump’s primary reason for telling everyone to stop testing was because the CDC had guidelines stated that an area should have two weeks of lowering case rates before starting to reopen. In Trump’s animalistic simplicity, “lowering case rates” was synonymous with “Fewer positive tests”. He has always had very little ability to think things through, but it has definitely gotten worse.

    When Trump started talking about running in 2015 I said “The most important thing to realize about Trump is that he is a moron.” He has done nothing since to change my opinion.

    8
  8. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The mask directive was issued 5 April–nearly a month before the incident on the Roosevelt. I’m not sure whether the directive applies in deployed environments.

    1
  9. Kingdaddy says:

    “Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing.”

    The data are very clear: they do need a mandate.

    24
  10. al Ameda says:

    Masks – Anecdote No. 1,729:
    My daughter lives in a ‘Blue State’ part of Wisconsin (pretty much Milwaukee and Madison) and, a few days ago while she was walking to the market, and wearing a mask’ a young guy driving by yelled out to her; “liar!”

    Wisconsin is very polarized on all of this.

    4
  11. JohnMcC says:

    Sorry if this is off-topic but the WaPo has a ‘late breaking’ banner up leading to the headline: Trump Administration Pushing To Block New Money for Testing, Tracing, and CDC in Upcoming Coronavirus Relief Bill.

    Highlights: Trump is attempting to block billions for the states that is supposed to fund testing and tracing. Also they’re trying to stop more billions for the CDC, for the Pentagon and for the State Dept. “Certain Administration officials” want to zero out money for testing and tracing altogether. They want to withdraw from setting national standards completely leaving that to the states. “As it currently stands the main bottleneck to a major ramp up in testing is less technical than it is the White House’s own intransigence,” per Sam Hammond who’s been working with Senate Republicans for the Niskanen Center (described as a ‘right wing think tank’).

    But I’m sure it’ll work out just fine. Move along. Nothing to see here.

    7
  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnMcC: The House should pass a bill appropriating “billions for the states to fund testing and tracing, fully fund the CDC for putting up a TTT system.” This bill should also prohibit any moneys be spent for testing administration officials.

    3
  13. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:
    Liar? What an odd accusation. Wouldn’t he have been more likely to have called her a dupe? A commie? A globalist? A libtard?

    3
  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Didn’t recall the incident being that late in the sequence. My bad.

    1
  15. Kathy says:

    The latest research is that wearing a mask does protect the wearer from SARS-CoV-2. It’s not a great deal of protection, but it’s far better than nothing. If this doesn’t get people to wear masks, nothing will.

    On the other hand, Delta has taken measures to get more people to wear masks on flights. Basically anyone claiming a medical exemption has to submit to clearance by Delta, which includes a consultation with a physician.

    Good for Delta, and here’s hoping other airlines copy their idea.

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  16. @James Joyner:

    What’s interesting is there’s no controversy in Defense Department circles. Masks have been required for months in spaces where social distancing is impossible.

    Indeed, even before we settled on a university-wide policy, AFROTC (which is in my college) told me that they were required for cadets to the point of being part of their uniforms.

    Indeed, if an AF cadet is hospitalized with Covid-19, they will not be allowed to continue their AF path, so the Colonel in charge is quite protective of his students.

    2
  17. Tyrell says:

    It is not just politicized, it is very much commercialized. I have seen some nice Disney masks, but for $20 each, I am not sure yet. At what price is it considered gouging?
    I have a nice pirate scarf that I have used some, but it wants to slip and slide too much.
    I design my own faces and staple to the mask. So far it has been the clown from “It”, a skull, Banshee, and shark. My newest work has been a challenge: it is the fiend style of Bray Wyatt, a man of many and variable talents. If I had a good printer it would be easier. Printer ink: talk about a perfect crime.

    4
  18. Joe says:

    “And I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears.”

    No, it disappears by magic not by science. I think he has been pretty clear on that.

    1
  19. Jc says:

    When you double down on wrong, you are still wrong. Someone who has a F-U attitude on something as simple as this should never be in a position of power. Yet we all see it everyday in our jobs and lives. That said, we all likely never thought someone like that could ever reach the position of the most powerful person in the world……Jesus. I am so giving up sometimes.

    2
  20. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder if there has ever been a president (other than this one) who so openly disagreed with CDC guidelines…ironically, Trump is making his own reelection even harder by not doing what he can to slow the spread of Covid-19…he’s certainly earning his high disapproval ratings…

    2
  21. JohnMcC says:
  22. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: Darn, and I tho’t I was getting the hang of this. In short, the D’s in the House are aiming for another $3Trillion bill. It would have funding for states & local gov’ts and to continue supplementing unemployment. No details of any breakdown since everything is in negotiations.

  23. JohnSF says:

    It’s interesting that “anti-masker” statements are beginning to turn up in the UK as well.

    And in similar political sections as in the US.
    i.e. among ultra-Brexiteers, anglo-nationalists, Tory libertarians, ex-UKIP etc.
    What one commentator calls the “BrexityTrumpkins”.

    And an interesting example of my feeling that sections of the UK right are increasingly affected in near real time by the US right.
    Due to social media cross-pollination, and the transatlantic connections of an influential circle of Tory/Republican overlapping think-tanks/lobbyists/foundations/media.

    Another example: the purported migration of the “alt-rightists” to from Twitter to Parler has picked up advocates in both US and UK.

    1
  24. EddieInCA says:

    @Kathy:

    On the other hand, Delta has taken measures to get more people to wear masks on flights. Basically anyone claiming a medical exemption has to submit to clearance by Delta, which includes a consultation with a physician.

    Good for Delta, and here’s hoping other airlines copy their idea.

    I just flew Delta last night from Salt Lake City to Seattle.

    It was a 737-900ER – I was in coach. Regular coach, not Delta Comfort Coach. But I did have an exit row.

    Every other row was unoccupied. Every Middle seat was unoccupied. Masks were REQUIRED for the duration of the flight. One guy in Delta Comfort tried to take his mask off. The Flight attendants got on him immediately, and he put it back on without complaint. They were not playing.

    I felt safe. I wore my N95 mask from the moment I entered the airport, until I got into my wife’s car in Seattle. It never came off. And that mask is suctioned to my face.

    But there was plenty of room on the flight. Delta seems to be doing it right. I have status with American, but may switch to Delta if American keeps doing what they’re doing.

    7
  25. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: I wish they would get a move on it… how many hundreds of thousands have to act before the Deep State finally performs the coup they’ve been planning since before Trump got elected?

    4
  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I’m beginning to think that the Deep State is just a myth.

    8
  27. JKB says:

    The point of mask orders is not because enforcement is going to get people to “do the right thing,” it is to demonstrate that, yes, this is serious and that we are all in it together.

    So how many people, perhaps you want to limit it to black people, is an acceptable number to die at the hands of police in enforcing these mask edicts? For as you say, “to demonstrate” the seriousness.

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.”
    –Art Carden, Econlog

    Professor Carden glosses over what happens when someone resists being put in the cages.

    Now, only an idiot cop would set themselves up to have their life destroyed, if not actually taken by a crusading prosecutor as happened in Atlanta. Once someone tells the cop to get stuffed, the force continuum comes into play where death by accident can occur, or even by the cop acting in justifiable self defense.

    You want an enforceable mask edict, so how many deaths due to enforcement are you willing to accept. Back in May, the NYPD was castigated for beating people, black people, on the street for not social distancing.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @JKB:

    So how many people is an acceptable number to die at the hands of police in enforcing these mask edicts?

    We’ve had 142,000 deaths, and the virus is spreading exponentially, so I think if the police killed 142,000 more people enforcing mask orders, we would probably be coming close to breaking even. We’re not halfway through this pandemic, and masks aren’t a perfect solution on their own. But, ballpark, id day around that number.

    However, people are squeemish and don’t like trading a life for a life that way, so how about 20% of that? 28,400.

    I think after the first few thousand deaths, however, people would realize the mask police aren’t fucking around, and they would start wearing masks. To get those numbers, we would have to have a very loose use of force.

    In reality, the number will be far less than that. At the outside, maybe a dozen? And they will all have the pre-existing condition of being an asshole.

    Fewer than the number of people dying when being arrested and tossed in jail where they cannot socially distance.

    How many people are you willing to kill to have the freedom to not wear a mask? Hint: that number is 142,000 and climbing.

    10
  29. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: to be fair, years of decreased lifespan might be a better measure, but it’s harder to calculate since we don’t know the long term effects of covid.

    Going for a very conservative estimate, assuming 50% of people who die have 6 months to live anyway, and the rest have 15, and anyone who doesn’t die in the hospital will have no effect on their lifespan — 15.5 x 100,000 is 1.5 million years, people live 100 years because of future tech… 15,000.

    We’re willing to kill 15,000 infants at the moment of birth. Obviously, this is a gross underestimate. We would be killing older people, and there is an effect on people who survive covid, and people only live 70 years — ooh, assume each person gets killed at 20, and then the lost years is an even 50, so dOutlet our 15,000 for that, and then add a guesstimate in years lost among covid survivors… how does 50,000 sound?

    Still a bargain. Given that we have a higher death count than that, already and we aren’t at the halfway point.

    1
  30. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:
    Not worthy of response, your comparison is inane and nonsensical.

    13
  31. Gustopher says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: It’s a good question in general — what are the adverse consequences?

    In this case the consequences are roughly nil.

    But, when discussing what to open when, the adverse consequences are very real.

    Opening schools is risky, but the cost to the students of not opening schools is very high. Particularly the younger students. It’s worth having the discussion, and considering what things we will do elsewhere to cut down the risk.

    Opening bars, on the other hand, is high risk for very little reward. If a state said that they were going to close bars again, but open schools — to allocate the risk where there is the most reward — I’d be wary, and I would want to try to postpone it until after Europe opens schools (let them discover the problems!), but I wouldn’t be opposed.

    We could even have a series of public service announcements about how real men drink alone.

    It’s only a stupid question when it’s put up against masks (negligible risk, very significant reward) by someone who isn’t even arguing in good faith.

    3
  32. Gustopher says:

    And sometimes the police won’t even kill a guy who points a gun while refusing to wear a mask…

    https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/prosecutors-man-told-put-mask-like-rest-us-pulled-gun-fred-meyer-shopper/LKIWZGE5JZGQHOEVM4YPFC5XXU/

    It’s a mask. To protect others. And even yourself, though not as much. How is this so fucking hard?

    5
  33. Bruce Henry says:

    JKB thinks he has a “Gotcha” when he asks if we want black people beaten and jailed for refusing to wear a mask under an “unenforceable” mask edict.

    “You want an enforceable mask edict, so how many deaths due to enforcement are you willing to accept[?]”

    Well, I would say about the same number of deaths that I’m willing to accept due to the “unenforceable edicts” regarding turn signals, tag lights, loud mufflers, window tints, jaywalking, and other traffic “edicts” that sometimes result in deaths at the hands of police — NONE.

    It’s not the laws themselves that are at fault when the police kill people for violating these “edicts” about misdemeanor or civil offenses, it’s how the police go about enforcing them.

    11
  34. Mu Yixiao says:

    @al Ameda:

    Wisconsin is very polarized on all of this.

    That’s not what I’m seeing.

    I live in a rural area outside of Madison, and work on the outskirts of the city. While mask wearing isn’t 100%, it’s high. Lots of businesses require them, and I’ve never seen anyone complain about it. Nobody looks twice at someone in a mask, and I’ve never seen anyone chastised for either wearing or not wearing one.

    1
  35. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “And sometimes the police won’t even kill a guy who points a gun while refusing to wear a mask…”

    From your link, he did more than that:

    “According to prosecutors, the man then attempted to grab his own gun during the struggle and told police, “You’re not getting my gun.” The man continued to fight and even grabbed at the vest of one of the officers in an attempt to bite him, prosecutors said.”

    2
  36. steve says:

    I live in a purple area of PA. We have had a number of people refuse to be tested because it infringed upon their liberty (their claim) and have had a couple of incidents where people refused to wear masks for the same reasons, but overall compliance is pretty good at the hospital. Of note, I haven’t had anyone try to claim they have a medical reason for not wearing a mask. All of our employees with asthma and COPD manage to work while wearing them. In public people are being pretty good but the farther you go out into the sticks the less likely that people wear them.

    Steve

    1
  37. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: that’s kind of the amazing thing, Trump and McConnell could get together and Trump say hey look I don’t wanna keep looking shitty and we don’t want this to turn into demands for socialized medicine, so let’s spend a few hundred billion dollars one time and get this shit under control so I look good.

    Do you think the Republicans would oppose that on deficit principle? How stupid is trump?

  38. Teve says:

    @Bruce Henry: The only time conservatives ever give a shit about poor black kids is when they can use it to attack a liberal.

    5
  39. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    or you could much more safely open schools… — I’d be wary, and I would want to try to postpone it until after Europe opens schools (let them discover the problems!), but I wouldn’t be opposed.

    Florida has more new cases per day than the EU.

    3
  40. @JKB:

    So how many people, perhaps you want to limit it to black people, is an acceptable number to die at the hands of police in enforcing these mask edicts? For as you say, “to demonstrate” the seriousness.

    Nice way to demonstrate your utter lack of understanding, or caring, about two major challenges we face as a country.

    Well done.

    13
  41. @JKB:

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.”
    –Art Carden, Econlog

    Professor Carden glosses over what happens when someone resists being put in the cages.

    BTW. you are engaging in some dorm room libertarian grade reductio ad absurdum.

    Bravo.

    18
  42. KM says:

    @JKB:

    Professor Carden glosses over what happens when someone resists being put in the cages.

    Actually, considering an anti-masker has a very good chance of causing someone serious harm / death through their actions, let’s ask how you feel about murderers and assaulters resisting the law coming for them. Do you feel someone who causes the death of another should “resist being put in a cage”? Is there a name for someone who rejects law and order to do as they please while knowing it causes injuries, death and economic harm?

    Oh yeah – the right likes to use “thug” don’t they? So JKB, how do you and other conservatives feel about thugs resisting police trying to enforce a legal dictate, perhaps by point guns at cops and strangers as we’ve seen? Why is the refrain “obey the police and nothing bad happens” coming to mind for how y’all address this kind of situation? Try dealing with the log in your own eye before you go looking for specks in others. This ain’t the gotcha you think it is.

    6
  43. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    Florida has more new cases per day than the EU.

    And Florida does not reflect the situation throughout the US.

    My county has a population of 57.5k. Since this all began, we’ve had a positive count of 125, with 18 hospitalized, and 1 fatality.

    My local school district is pushing for full-time, in-school classes this fall (with significant safety measures in place). They do, however, have alternate plans for 40/40/10* and fully online teaching. The district is taking its cues from the health departments of the two counties we serve.

    With the safety measures in place, I don’t see much of an issue with in-class instruction in our area. If I were living in NYC or Miami, I’d be entirely on the other side. These are decisions that need to be made locally–based on science and rational risk assessment.

    * Students would be split into two groups. Group 1 would be in-person M/T, Group 2 would be in-person R/F. They would be online opposite days. Wednesday would be a “study hall” day for students, a meeting day for teachers, and a disinfection day for the buildings.

    1
  44. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    BTW. you are engaging in some dorm room libertarian grade reductio ad absurdum.

    A) You’re missing some en-dashes in there.

    B) Why did you feel the need to put “libertarian” in there, when the rest would suffice?

  45. Mikey says:

    @JKB: Wow, that was really, really stupid.

    2
  46. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    B) Why did you feel the need to put “libertarian” in there, when the rest would suffice?

    Because it fits and gives greater context to the rest.

    4
  47. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    And Florida does not reflect the situation throughout the US.

    My county has a population of 57.5k. Since this all began, we’ve had a positive count of 125, with 18 hospitalized, and 1 fatality.

    This is what every single red state county said… months ago… weeks ago… days ago…

    Reality will catch up to your county. This isn’t over. We’re in inning 3 of a nine inning game. Unless your county is contact tracing, maximizing social distancing, and have near universal mask wearing, the case count is going to go up.

    11
  48. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    Actually, considering an anti-masker has a very good chance of causing someone serious harm / death through their actions, let’s ask how you feel about murderers and assaulters resisting the law coming for them.

    Equating “wearing a mask” with “murder” is one of those arguments that’s going to work against you.

    Someone in a forum I used to frequent said that “inappropriate words” and “rape” were the same. I replied: That’s like saying eating the french fires off your plate is the same as stealing your baby. The result isn’t going to turn everyone against eating your french fries, it’s going to tell them that stealing your baby is no big deal.

    Nobody is going to equate “not wearing a mask” with “actively intending to kill someone”–so they’ll dismiss your position as ridiculous. All of your position. And anything you say after that.

    What baffles me the most about all of this is that nobody has thought to use the most powerful tool in the arsenal: PR and Marketing.

    Alka-Seltzer doubled its sales with the jingle “Plop-plop, fizz-fizz, oh what a relief it is.” Those first two words convinced people that you need two tablets (one’s enough).

    The CDC should walk up to 5th Avenue and offer a PR or Marketing firm a few million dollars (and good favor) to promote a national “wear a mask” campaign–with targeted messages.

    * Liberals: Save the country
    * Conservatives: Protect yourself
    * Radicals: It fucks up facial recognition
    * Anarchists: [ibid]
    * Racists: Those foreigners can’t infect you
    * Top 1%: Protect yourself from the plebes
    * Bottom 10%: Don’t let the 1% wipe you out
    * Marvel Fans: DC characters don’t wear masks
    * Mac users: PC users are vulnerable to viruses, we know how to protect you.

    2
  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    There is always a lie at the heart of any comment you make. In this case:

    You want an enforceable mask edict, so how many deaths due to enforcement are you willing to accept. Back in May, the NYPD was castigated for beating people, black people, on the street for not social distancing.

    It was not ‘the NYPD’ it was one officer with a long, documented history of brutality. From that article:

    The NYPD officer who violently arrested a man in the East Village during a social distancing stop this weekend has a lengthy history of alleged brutality — garnering more than half a dozen misconduct lawsuits in five years, and costing city taxpayers nearly $200,000, according to the Legal Aid Society.

    This cop evidently did not require a mask mandate to act like a thug.

    You always lie. Always. Trumpies always do.

    12
  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Unless your county is contact tracing, maximizing social distancing, and have near universal mask wearing, the case count is going to go up.

    Based on what scientific evidence?

    Since this all began, my county has had one death from COVID-19 (.0017%). We’ve had a grand total of 125 confirmed cases of which only 18 were hospitalized (at any level).

    Your assertion that “the case count is going to go up” unless we do XYZ has zero science to back it up, and is pure fear-mongering. While the case count has spiked in plenty of other places, ours has stayed very very low.

    It would seem that what we’ve been doing has been very effective.

  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Your assertion that “the case count is going to go up” unless we do XYZ has zero science to back it up, and is pure fear-mongering. While the case count has spiked in plenty of other places, ours has stayed very very low.

    That is an absolutely idiotic statement. It’s magical thinking, not remotely science-based. Countermeasures like social distancing, masks and hand-washing work. Wishful thinking does not.

    8
  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Not to pry, but is your locality primarily Republican? Are you confident that the officials making these decisions are doing so on the basis of facts and evidence? Are they truly reviewing the procedures that led to successful reopening in other countries, or are they just using those successes as anecdotal bullet points with no plans to put in place the policies that led to those successful reopening? Do they have a testing plan, and are they ready to do contact tracing when children and faculty test positive? What is the quarantine plan?

    There is more involved than just the current situation on the ground. Success, whether in football or in pandemics, require planning, competence and the ability to shift tactics as the situation develops. Since Reagan, Republicans have made it clear that you shouldn’t expect help from government when they are in charge. Their only promise is that they will make the government smaller and weaker. I would not trust a red state or county level response. They may talk a good game, but I doubt they have anything but words.

    2
  53. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That is an absolutely idiotic statement. It’s magical thinking, not remotely science-based. Countermeasures like social distancing, masks and hand-washing work. Wishful thinking does not.

    Where does “wishful thinking” enter into this? I’m talking about data.

    The county where I live has a very low incidence of infection and hospitalization, and only one death.

    This has fuck-all to do with “wishful thinking”. It has everything to do with following the proper protocols.

    We ARE engaging in social distancing. We ARE engaging in proper hygiene. We ARE wearing masks (not 100%, but in significant percentages).

    The assertion that “the case count is going to go up” is not based on any science–because it ignores the facts on the ground. When other places have seen spikes, we’ve seen nothing. Because we’ve been doing the right thing from the start.

    The data shows that we’re doing the right thing.

    Please show the data that says we’re engaged in “wishful thinking”.

    57,500 people. Since all this began: 18 hospitalizations. 1 death.

    You either believe in the data or your personal agenda. You can’t have it both ways.

  54. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: We need to do everything we can to reopen everything that can be reopened safely. It sounds like you are living in a pretty sensible area and that people are following protocols. My questions above have more to do with what the local government will be doing when a wider reopening occurs and individual actions aren’t enough. If you have kids in schools you are not going to know that they are infected and spreading without active surveillance. Once a child is found to be infected you have to find out where they spread it to. I have no confidence that Republican officials have the understanding of what needs to be done and how to do it. They literally have been running on a platform of “Shrinking government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub”*. People with that mentality are not the ones that should be handling a crisis that requires communal, i.e. governmental, competence.

    “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Grover Norquist, one of the major forces behind the Republican Party for two decades.

    3
  55. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Based on what scientific evidence?

    Based on everything we know about epidemiology and this virus. The virus is going to get everywhere in the US, eventually, unless we take extreme measures (quarantine, travel bans, individual contact tracing) to stop it. Without those measures, the country divides into places that have already had it, places that have it, and places that are going to have it.

    I’ve been tracking the county where my in-laws own property, to see how risky it would be for them to go there. That county looked just like yours for months — low case count, no growth, no deaths. Since June 1, here’s the case count by day:
    4
    4
    4
    4
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    5
    6
    6
    7
    7
    7
    9
    10
    10
    10
    10
    10
    10
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    14
    14
    15
    16
    16
    17
    20
    21

    Want to take any bets on how high it will go?

    4
  56. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “If I were living in NYC or Miami, I’d be entirely on the other side”

    That’s funny. It seems like only weeks ago that the governor of Florida was saying how outrageous it was that people expected his state to act like New York when they had so few infections.

    What is it about being a “conservative” that makes it so impossible to understand that a highly communicable virus will spread even into their own neighborhoods?

    5
  57. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “We’re in inning 3 of a nine inning game.”

    Or maybe we’re still in the first inning and the other team now has the bases loaded with a bunch of runs already scored.

    3
  58. JohnMcC says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Congratulations!! Wish the people of FL had behaved as well as your neighbors and you have done. Of course, if lots of people learn how your city is doing great, they might just want to live there. So if suddenly FL license plates start showing up on your street and rental houses start getting snapped up, do you s’pose school officials would notice and reconsider? Would JKB’s mask police get busy?

    I guess living in St Pete shaped my thinking but it really is a national problem and your home’s compliance is one panel in a large mosaic. And if I lived in a place like that MY lips would be absolutely sealed.

    2
  59. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “The CDC should walk up to 5th Avenue and offer a PR or Marketing firm a few million dollars (and good favor) to promote a national “wear a mask” campaign–with targeted messages.”

    Sure they should, just as the War Department used to put out those “Loose lips sink ships” posters. The difference is that in WW2, the president wasn’t actively siding with the Axis, and here the president won’t let his government do anything about our current viral enemy.

    Oh, except try to cut out all funds for testing and contact tracing from the new funding bill.

    5
  60. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “Since this all began, my county has had one death from COVID-19 (.0017%). We’ve had a grand total of 125 confirmed cases of which only 18 were hospitalized (at any level).”

    “We have a total of fifteen cases in this country and soon it will be zero.”

    7
  61. Mu Yixiao says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Not to pry, but is your locality primarily Republican?

    From the start, you’re making a mistake: You think that this is a R/D thing–or that the R/D distinction is significant.

    My county is a mix of liberal and conservative. But most would actually fall in the middle–or, more accurately, fall across the spectrum. I’ve heard plenty of conservatives support gay marriage–because the government has no right telling people who they can love.

    Are you confident that the officials making these decisions are doing so on the basis of facts and evidence?

    Yes.

    I publish a small online newspaper. Not only do I get the press releases from the various government departments, I have built up personal relationships with them. I ask them questions and I call them on the answers when they’re not sufficient.

    Are they truly reviewing the procedures that led to successful reopening in other countries, or are they just using those successes as anecdotal bullet points with no plans to put in place the policies that led to those successful reopening?

    Pretty much everyone is following the rules put forth by the relevant state and county authorities. And every business I’ve spoken with has tended towards the “cautious” side of the spectrum.

    Do they have a testing plan, and are they ready to do contact tracing when children and faculty test positive? What is the quarantine plan?

    The local school district has a thorough plan–with three approaches–in place. Even the most liberal has strict protocols for masks, social distancing, monitoring, testing, and separating anyone who shows symptoms.

    As surprising as this may seem to you, small towns and rural areas do have intelligent people who understand science and risk assessment, are able to make decisions based on facts, and value the lives of their families more than politics.

    TL;DR: Cheeseheads aren’t sociopathic idiots who are willing to watch their families die to prove a political point. Our death rate is significantly lower than the national average.

    We have had 18 people hospitalized, and one person die. In 7 months.

    What are the numbers in your county?

  62. Mu Yixiao says:

    @ Everyone

    I honestly thought you’d all be happy to see a rural area that has followed the recommendations and kept their infection rate and fatality rate very low.

    I couldn’t be more wrong.

    Despite the fact that we’ve been doing everything science says we should, have shown that the guidelines work, and have tiny hospitalization rates and only one death….

    We’re the enemy because…. Ummm…. I honestly don’t know.

    And you wonder why rural areas don’t embrace the Democratic party.

    I am done with this conversation.

    2
  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    As surprising as this may seem to you, small towns and rural areas do have intelligent people who understand science and risk assessment, are able to make decisions based on facts, and value the lives of their families more than politics.

    You will get no disagreement from me on that. And, being from Chicago, I’m aware that Wisconsinites tend to be a sensible, practical people, although I admit the election of so many Tea Partiers to statewide office in the last 10-12 years has made me question that.

    From the start, you’re making a mistake: You think that this is a R/D thing–or that the R/D distinction is significant.

    No mistake. Numerous surveys have shown that the biggest factor by far in whether people are behaving safely or not is whether they self identify as a Republican. The leader of the Republican Party is literally a blithering idiot, incapable of forming a coherent and factual statement. And the Republicans in Congress simply don’t see they have any role in this. There are laws that need to change because they are outdated, such as test results from Federally certified labs being delivered exclusively by fax machine. House Democrats are trying to slip these reforms into large, must-pass bills, attempting to sneak it by Republicans who simply have no interest.

    The reason the US has failed so miserably at this is because we have embraced Republicanism for 40 years, gutting our ability to respond to a crisis as a nation.

    7
  64. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    We’re the enemy because…. Ummm…. I honestly don’t know.

    I hope you are not including me in that. My questions were sincere and when I stated that it was important we open up everything we can, I meant it. I wish your community great success in reopening the schools, and it looks like you are starting off from a good place. I’m sure you agree that it is not enough to simply have a low case count, but also plans and procedures in place when a student is found to have been spreading the virus, and it sounds like you are confident of your local officials. Given your reporting work, I think we have to give that higher than normal credence.

    Where we legitimately disagree is as to whether an official having an “R” after their name is a cause for concern. I doubt we will convince each other but that doesn’t mean we can’t debate it.

    3
  65. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I honestly thought you’d all be happy to see a rural area that has followed the recommendations and kept their infection rate and fatality rate very low.

    We are. Really. You have entirely misunderstood the pushback you’re getting.

    I couldn’t be more wrong.

    Correct, but not in the way you think.

    Despite the fact that we’ve been doing everything science says we should, have shown that the guidelines work, and have tiny hospitalization rates and only one death….

    We’re the enemy

    Where the hell did that come from? The virus is the enemy.

    The part you don’t seem to get is that what the people in your region have done in the past won’t protect them in the future unless essentially all of them keep doing it, AND you have no way of knowing how much of your low case rate is due to diligent good behavior and how much is due to the good luck of not having significant infection vectors wander into your neighborhood yet. It is impossible to tell the difference between “our behavior keeps us safe” and “we haven’t really been tested yet” just by looking at case rates or hospitalizations or deaths in the past.

    As has been pointed out to you, other places with just as sterling a record of low case rates have suddenly had spikes in infections, recently. Those places could have made exactly the argument you are making now, two weeks ago. They would have been wrong. And it only takes a small proportion of the neighborhood to not take things seriously to screw everything up for everyone.

    And you wonder why rural areas don’t embrace the Democratic party.

    No, I know why — it’s because they totally fail to understand what they say. Which you are helping to demostrate.

    11
  66. CSK says:

    The anti-maskers have a website: http://www.antimaskers.com

    They believe that what they put in and on their bodies is a personal choice.

    How many of them are anti-abortion?

    2
  67. RWB says:

    Testing and tracing do not work if the system is overburdened with uncontrolled spread and masks control spread (R0). The irony of this is that the best chance Trump has of being re-elected is if the virus is under some kind of control by October, and the best chance of stopping the spread and gaining control short of a complete shutdown is masks. This is the Trump Taj Mahal all over again.

    1
  68. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Here is the google page for Wisconsin Covid. That trend doesn’t look good. There are alot of counties with almost no cases… just like Florida, just like Texas, just like Georgia… several weeks ago.
    https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=wisconsin+covid+cases

    Additionally, here is the page for Wisconsin Covid cases from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
    https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/cases-map.htm

    Fact: There are 22 counties with LESS cases and deaths than yours.
    Fact: The trend is going up for the state. That you think your county is not going to get hit like every other county in the country is the problem that we, as a country, have been having since March.

    I’m thrilled your county has such a low case count. But it seems as though you’re ignoring trend for your state. Your case numbers are going up. It is coming to your county. I hope you and your family and friends are spared.

    1
  69. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Here is the Wisconsin raw numbers graph from the Wisconsin Department of Health. It’s scary.

    https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm

    Of the 72 counties listed on the website, only two, TWO, have a “low” burden and a “low” activity level. Yours isn’t one of them based on the numbers you gave. It’s coming. Sadly. Be safe.

    2