To Mask, or Not To Mask...

President Trump has been saddled with much of the blame for the number of Covid-19 infections and the corresponding deaths, and some of it is legitimate. When announcing the new mask advisory from the CDC on April 3, Trump declared it voluntary and said, “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.” This was a terrible mistake on the president’s part and deserving of all the criticism it received. As the leader of the nation, once it was recommended by the CDC he should have modeled mask wearing any time he was in public, regardless of his personal opinion. However, can we really blame a president entirely for the results of a pandemic of an unknown virus, without also blaming those who unleashed the virus, those who advised the president, and those who refused to follow scientific recommendations? Hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of infections are not the result of one man’s decisions, but a combination of many mistakes made by many people. From the beginning, this should have been an American problem solved with American ingenuity, rather than the solution-less political weapon it became.

As the democrats and liberal socialist media lay all of the blame for not wearing masks and Covid mortality at the feet of the former president, let’s review…

On February 27, 2020, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told Americans that healthy people should not wear masks. On March 8, 2020, the revered Dr. Anthony Fauci, the highest paid employee on the federal government’s payroll, said, “…people should not be walking around with masks…There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” cautioning that healthy people wearing masks could deplete the supply needed for first responders. He also warned of “unintended consequences,” like masks causing people to touch their faces more, inviting the transmission of Covid-19 germs into the nose, eyes, and mouth, and said, “...wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it's not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.” As directives from health organizations changed, and mask-wearing became favored, Fauci said of his changing opinion, “…we had plenty of masks and coverings that you could put on that's plain that took care of that problem…" He also told Americans on April 3, just to “wear some sort of facial covering.” Fauci clearly, from that point on, endorsed the CDC recommendation that Americans should wear masks, but it sounded as though any “plain cloth” mask or any facial covering would be adequate.

Now, Fauci endorses wearing two masks, suggesting, “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective… Double layering is adding extra filtration, but a lot of the benefit also comes in making sure you are covering those gaps around the mask, because not every mask you put on fits equally.” However, President Biden’s Covid-19 adviser, Dr. Michael Osterholm, refutes Fauci, noting that doubling up on masks might actually be counterproductive. He suggests that double face masks “…may actually impede the movement of air in and out and causing it to actually escape in the big crevices between the cloth and your face,” causing a greater problem than wearing just a single mask. So, do we, after a year of this virus plaguing the world, really know best practices to battle Covid-19? Obviously not. Our top medical experts are doing their best to ascertain knowledge and tame this pandemic, and mitigate its negative consequences, but there is still much that is unknown and much to learn.

In September, Fauci defended his earlier anti-mask wearing statements, claiming that they feared a shortage of masks for medical professionals and that the public could hoard masks. In a July 24 interview with the Washington Post, Fauci said they wanted to “save the masks for the people who really needed them.” Does this mean that all those people who died from Covid-19 during this time did not “really need” the masks? Should Fauci be blamed for all those Covid-19 deaths of Americans who, prior to his reversal, did not wear masks and contracted the virus? Of course, he shouldn’t, but if we should not blame our medical experts for their previous errors, then should we really be crucifying the former president for his mistakes? Only if it is political, and it was.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has been overly politicized. Trump made mistakes and as the nation’s leader must shoulder much of the blame. We should not, however, overlook the actions of those who exacerbated the problem. We saw Nancy Pelosi hold up Covid relief simply to keep President Trump from getting credit, immediately agreeing to much less than she was demanding as soon as Joe Biden won the election. We see Democrat governors who enforced draconian lockdown measures now encouraging the opening of their states, all since Biden was elected president. Should we blame these governors for lives lost to depression and suicide as a result of their totalitarian restrictions?

President Biden, despite his claims during the campaign and vitriolic attacks on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, has no magnificent plan to defeat the virus, telling the American people now that he is in office, that there is “nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic.” Biden’s plan – wear masks (we already were); 100 million vaccines in 100 days (we were already on that pace); travel bans (we already had them and Biden called them “xenophobic”); economic relief for the American people (already did that and was doing it again). So, after all that venomous repudiation of the Trump administration, the Biden administration has basically followed the same Covid-19 plan. Should we now blame Biden for any of the Covid deaths on his watch?

At first, the question was… to mask, or not to mask? Now the question is… one mask or two? We are all learning as we go with this virus, so anti-maskers need to mask up, anti-vaxxers need to vax up, and politicians need to open the economy up. Some people are still going to get infected; some are unfortunately still going to die. There are some things that humans cannot control, and the deadly scourge of an unknown virus brings uncontrollable effects. Unfortunately, American politics has become more about destruction than construction, more about blame than collaboration, more about political party than the United States, and more about ideology than patriotism. How many times have we been in awe of what we have achieved by working together? Yet, our elected officials continue to choose division and political expediency over unity and the best interests of the American people.

My point… rather than looking back, relitigating the past, and placing blame (whether Trump or Fauci or anyone else), we need to focus on the present with a keen eye on the future, working together to treat those who have contracted Covid, prevent others from contracting it, and finally eradicating this plague from our society. We can no longer shutter restaurants, gyms, and other businesses out of fear of a virus, as the economic, social, and emotional tolls have been every bit as harsh as health outcomes, but we can take precautions and be smart… wear a mask, social distance, utilize more treatment options, get vaccinated, follow CDC guidelines… why not do these things? Nothing is lost by being prepared, but much is lost by being sheltered.

After all, what is life if we are not living it?

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