Do masks work? Data, doctors in Nebraska suggest they do

Matt Olberding Nov 10, 2020 – for the Lincoln Journal Star

My cmnt: Look, this is not hard, masks do NOT work. Period. This piece below is just pathetic. What matters in this report are the three phrases in bold – anecdotal data seems (and) data seems to show (and) health officials’ opinions. Even the headline uses the word ‘suggest’. Anecdote, seems, opinions and suggest are NOT scientific words. The newspaper is careful to NOT claim one scientific fact in this ‘anecdotal’ collection of stories below. This is the worst and sloppiest journalism. Science does NOT rest on simple correlations. For example: I noticed (an anecdote) that when people eat carrots and spin around twice they don’t get sick. I watched literally thousands of people do this and they are not sick! Wow. I as a power hungry bureaucrat now decree that everyone, especially children under the age of five, eat carrots and spin around twice. If you don’t want to do this you are spreading disease and overloading our healthcare systems. What’s the harm? Just do it. It’s not political. Put on the damn mask.

My cmnt2: We are purposefully not told the ages nor the comorbidities of the people going to the hospitals. Nor are we told if they were careful mask wearers who strangely got sick anyway. Nor are we told their occupations, daily habits, vitamin D3 levels, sunlight exposure, mental state or a hundred other things that affect outcomes. Reporting anecdotal data as meaningful fact is irresponsible and borderline malfeasance. Nor are we EVER told the serious risks to people who wear masks for long periods of time. Wearing masks is political and psychological and does harm the people forced to do it. Click on the links in purple highlight above for everything you ever wanted to know about mask wearing.

COVID-19 case spikes in Lincoln and across Nebraska have raised questions about whether wearing masks makes any difference in the spread of the virus, but health officials’ opinions are that they do, and anecdotal data seems to back up that theory.

Though there are mask mandates in Lancaster County and Omaha, Gov. Pete Ricketts has expressed opposition to them, which has likely prevented other cities and counties around the state from implementing them.

For example, last month, the Central District Health Department, which covers Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties, sought Ricketts’ permission to institute a mask mandate and was declined.

Over the weekend, several Omaha-area doctors tweeted pleas to the governor that he institute a statewide mask mandate. In response, Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage suggested the tweets were politically motivated, noting the doctors had expressed support for Democrat Joe Biden, the presumptive winner of the presidential election.

During a news conference Monday, Ricketts said he has no plans to issue a statewide mask mandate and would not do so even if Biden becomes president and directs states to do so.

But data seems to show masks may be helping to blunt the spread of COVID-19 in the two Nebraska metro areas that have mandates.

According to data produced daily by the New York Times, Lancaster and Douglas counties have case rates that are much lower than other large counties in the state.

As of Tuesday, the COVID-19 rate for Lancaster County over the past seven days was 63 cases per 100,000 people. That was the lowest rate among Nebraska counties with at least 10,000 people. Douglas County’s rate was 87 cases per 100,000 residents, which was lower than all but a half-dozen counties with more than 10,000 people.

Thirty counties in Nebraska had rates of at least 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, and while that number includes larger counties such as Scotts Bluff, Lincoln and Buffalo, it also includes a number of smaller counties.

The virus is spreading uncontrollably in many rural areas, causing smaller hospitals to become overwhelmed and have to transfer patients to larger hospitals.

On Tuesday, Bryan Health set another record for the number of patients with active COVID-19 infections in its two Lincoln hospitals, with 102. What’s notable about that number is that 68, or two-thirds, are from outside Lancaster County.

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