By Letter to the Editor on October 9, 2020.
Ken Moore offers a well-argued pro-mask position in a letter of Sept. 17, titled “Personal freedom ends where another’s safety begins.” I agree with that statement.
However, there is an unsubstantiated premise in his argument. This may lead readers to judge anti-maskers as either stupid, stubborn, morally irresponsible or all three. The premise is that masks stop the majority of COVID-19 virus particles from getting through. This is plausible, but not supported by the scientific evidence.
Pro-maskers believe that the virus is carried by droplets of water too big to get through the mask. An alternative possibility is that the virus is transmitted in the air we breathe, unhindered by the masks. If so, it is not known whether the particles remain in the air for long periods of time, to be carried for long distances. Seasonal data indicates that humidity reduces the rate of transmission, and this may be due to the fact that higher humidity causes the particles to collect in water droplets and fall out of the air.
For those who would like to look further into this, you might start here: https://www.rcreader.com/commentary/masks-dont-work-covid-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covide-19-social-policy. This article was originally on ResearchGate.net, but was taken down. Why?
Those who have investigated this alternative are not simply irresponsible morons. They are pro-social skeptics, aware of how vested interests can distort what we are told. Politicians understandably find it difficult to walk back a policy if the science does not turn out to support them. When anti-maskers protest they are trying to stop us all from jumping too quickly to conclusions.
Let us be patient and respectful of everyone on all sides of this issue. Let no one be silenced, either by social pressure, or from being denied access to a way of expressing their view. We are all fallible.