To Mask, or not to Mask? Data has the Answer

Dr. Samuel Van Kirk

You may not like the concept of wearing a mask for political reasons, but it is hard to ignore the mounting data that wearing a mask can turn the tide of this pandemic. I don’t like wearing a mask, it is uncomfortable. But data is data. Data does not care how you vote. Data does not care about your perception of rights. Data can help us make informed decisions. I suggest reading broadly, with an open mind, and change your worldview if the data requires it. In countries where masking is common the infection rates are less. Debate and discuss. I am not an epidemiologist, so don’t take what I say as fact until you have had a chance to verify it. Below are excerpts from a recent well structured study. If you have data to the contrary let us discuss it.


“Social distancing and masking at both 50% and 80-90% of the population but no lockdown beyond the end of May results in substantial reduction of infection, with 80-90% masking eventually eliminating the disease.”

“Without masking, lifting lockdown after nine weeks while keeping social distancing measures will risk a major second wave of the epidemic in 4-5 months’ time. However, if four out of five citizens start wearing cloth masks in public before the lockdown is lifted, the number of new COVID-19 cases could decline enough to exit lockdown and still avoid a second wave of the epidemic. If only every second person starts wearing a mask, infection rates would also decline substantially, but likely not by enough to prevent the second wave.”

“Our results highlight the need for mass masking as an alternative to a continued lockdown scenario. For this strategy to be most effective, the vast majority of the population needs to adopt mask wearing immediately. When a well-timed “mouth-and-nose lockdown” accompanies the current “full body lockdown”, both the human and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic can be significantly lowered.”

“The medical and social risks of increased infections need to be countered by proper advice in the public domain. Some studies do indicate negative effects of naive improper cloth mass use, for instance higher risks of infection due to moisture retention, reuse of poorly washed cloth masks, and poor filtration in comparison to medical masks (MacIntyre et al., 2015). To address concerns that lay individuals may use both medical and/or cloth and paper masks incorrectly, masking techniques and norms need to be taught with targeted information to different demographics, just as proper handwashing and social distancing techniques have been taught.”

Dr. Samuel Van Kirk
Samuel Van Kirk, M.D. OBGYN is a board-certified physician with nearly two decades of experience. He proudly provides compassionate, personalized care for women of all ages at his private practice in Redding, California. Dr. Van Kirk studied mechanical engineering and achieved his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara before receiving his graduate degree at Stanford University. After studying mechanical engineering, Dr. Van Kirk earned his medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He then completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Van Kirk grew up in Colorado and enjoys an active lifestyle, including backpacking and spending time outdoors.
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