Health: “But They Said Not to Use Masks!”

The Story:

Early in this pandemic, there was a fair amount of publicity to the effect that most people should refrain from wearing masks. Certain masks were in short supply and should not be worn except by those providing front-line care. Others might be a problem for other reasons: they might create excessive confidence, leading people to ignore “social distancing” for example. Last month, though, public health officials began calling for use of masks by the general public. People naturally wonder: Why the flip-flop?


The point about N95 respirators is still valid: they are required for the front-line workers. The other arguments against using inexpensive masks and other face coverings have come to seem insubstantial over time, and the best advice is that one should wear them, and one should social distance too. If you do not immediately have access to a mask, a scarf or bandanna can do the job.

In Pill Form:

As a Canadian commentator (Jen Gerson) wrote recently:”W are engaged in a massive, global experiment in how to curb the worst effects of a pandemic. Almost every measure we’re employing to that end is theoretical, [w]hich isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be doing it.”

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