February 14, 2022 | By: Mark Glennon | photo image source: wirepoints
“Last week an Illinois reporter finally asked what scientific support the state has for mandating masks on school children. At the Wednesday press conference, Gov. JB Pritzker had Dr. Emily Landon, one of his top COVID policy advisors, give the answer.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a whole web page on it, Landon answered, and she vaguely referenced some Minnesota study (which we cannot find and Landon did not identify). The video is here.
That’s it. That’s all we have ever gotten from the Pritzker Administration on its science behind masks on kids, so that is what we will look at in this column. There was no follow up question and, as always, no reporter confronted Pritzker or his advisors with the vast evidence and expert opinion now published showing that masks on school kids have little if any value, which in any event is outweighed by harm being done to our children.
Since Illinois has blindly followed all CDC guidance on COVID, we will also look beyond the web page Landon referred to and consider other claims the CDC and Landon have made on the subject.
The CDC page Landon apparently was referring to is linked here. It’s what the Illinois Department of Public Health sent me when I asked for it and any other science they cared to offer. They also referred me to Landon directly, whom I emailed for the same, though she never responded.
Look through that CDC page yourself if you want. Go to the “Mask use” section. That’s the only portion relevant to whether masking school kids is worth it. Among the problems that should be immediately apparent:
- The studies cited on the CDC page lump masking in with a variety of other mitigation measures, rendering them useless as a measure of the efficacy of masks on children.
- All the supposed science was written before the December arrival of the omicron variant, rendering it meaningless. Omicron defeats masks far more easily because it is far more contagious than earlier variants and accounts for almost all current COVID infections.
- Most importantly, none of the material cited by the CDC attempts to weigh any supposed benefit of masks on school children against the vast harm done to them and their education.
Illinois has long followed CDC guidance reflexively and without scrutiny, yet it’s difficult to imagine how anybody following the subject affords any credibility to the CDC.
It still has never bothered to run a randomized, controlled test on masking, which is the standard scientists look for. Instead, it squelched its own study showing masks are ineffective on school kids. In November, we collected more of its suppressed evidence, distortions, fabricated studies and outright falsehoods here. They include the ridiculous earlier claim by the CDC director that masks can reduce your chances of getting a COVID-19 infection by 80%. Harvard medical school’s Martin Kuldorff retweeted a note saying “Not a single paper supports this made-up 80% figure.” The claim was “preposterous,” wrote Stanford epidemiology Professor Jay Battacharya.
Since then, the CDC has only gotten worse. To support its policy on school masking, the CDC this month released a study done in California purportedly showing mask effectiveness. It has been savaged by leading scientists. “The paper is entirely, irredeemably flawed. Its flaws are so evident that it should not have been published nor promoted,” wrote Vinay Prasad of the University of California.
“When it comes to masks, the CDC is its own worst enemy,” says a recent column in Newsweek. “The CDC spread what amounts to misinformation in its promotion of cloth masks, which countless medical experts have said are useless against Omicron, the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States.”
“In this case and others, the [CDC] has proven that it cannot be trusted to act as an honest broker of scientific information,” as columns in Reason have documented.
The biggest and most cited study on masking in general was conducted in Bangladesh. It was randomized and controlled. It found zero indication that cloth masks work. Cloth masks are overwhelmingly what school kids use – by necessity because higher quality masks don’t typically fit children and are far less comfortable to wear through a school day.”
U.S. CDC and government of China collaborating for the past 30 years