Don’t hold your breath for end of mask insanity

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I trust that everyone has got the latest health advice from Los Angeles? It comes after the emergence of a photo of the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, with NBA legend Magic Johnson. What was wrong with the photograph? Well everybody in it was maskless. In a city that still mandates masks indoors.

Naturally, Garcetti had an excuse for this, just like San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Gov. Gavin Newsom and so many COVID hypocrites before. Last year, when Breed was spotted maskless at an indoor event, she said that she was just digging the music so much that she couldn’t help herself. When Newsom got caught dining at a fine French restaurant with a gaggle of lobbyists, it appeared he had been digging the Sauvignon Blanc just as much.

Galling hypocrisy

But nothing could best Garcetti’s excuse. When asked about the photo of him at Sunday’s game between the 49ers and the Rams, Garcetti pointed out that he was holding a mask in his hand. Which he was — like a votive offering to the COVID gods. More importantly, Garcetti said that he was actually holding his breath during the photograph. That’s right. Apparently, the latest science shows that if you hold your breath you can’t get COVID. And if you keep going your chances of not dying of COVID can be as high as 100%.

Of course the hypocrisy is most galling. Californians, like New Yorkers, have had to spend the last two years going through a ridiculous charade of mask protocols among other idiocies.

Useless charade

As it happens I was in Los Angeles last weekend, taking an elderly friend out for dinner. As we threatened to walk the few feet between the reception desk and our table the staff intervened to insist that we mask up for the journey. So we eventually got masks, donned them, walked the short distance to the table and took them off. Had I only known what the mayor knows we could have just promised to hold our breath between the desk and the table. Or I could have waved a mask in front of me to ward off the evil COVID spirits.

Shoppers and "mask mandate" signs seen at Citadel outlet shopping center with patrons standing in longer lines and follow the new statewide mask mandate in California which took effect Wednesday as seen on December 18, 2021.
Democratic states such as New York and California are far behind other countries returning to normalcy.
Joe Kohen/Shutterstock

But it’s not just the hypocrisy that grates. In California, like New York, it’s the senselessness of it all.

All the evidence shows that cloth masks do nothing to ward off the virus. Yet our officials seem wedded to their outdated narrative. We have now had two years of them telling us to mask, double-mask, triple-mask. And most of the time the people telling us to do this clearly knew that it was making little or no difference. If it did make a difference then all these officials would not keep being caught maskless. They know it is a charade, as do most of the public.

Which would be bad enough, were it not for the people most affected. Which is this nation’s children. In California, as in New York, school children are still mandated to wear masks at school in lessons and even during physical exercise. The superintendent of one small district has promised that if COVID cases keep falling then later this week children might be allowed to do physical exercise outside without their masks on. And this is regarded as some great liberation.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has refused to lift his state’s indoor mask mandate in spite of COVID-19 hospitalizations declining.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

It is not. It is an outrage that such restrictions have been allowed to continue in the first place. Even as hospitalizations have fallen and more and more people have been vaccinated, officials seem to have doubled-down on the child-masking. By doing so they continue to punish the demographic least likely to suffer from having the virus.

Despite legal wrangling here in New York this city’s mask mandate for children in schools remains firmly in place. Yet as experts like Vinay Prasad have explained, the whole basis for continuing this practice is entirely nonsensical.

Other countries are busily lifting their restrictions. Britain recently lifted its coronavirus restrictions, and as David Marcus pointed out here yesterday, so has Denmark.

This is because these countries have decided to follow the evidence. A recent study commissioned by the British government showed that there is no evidence that forcing children to wear masks makes any difference to the spread of the coronavirus. A review carried out by Prasad along with academics from Harvard and the University of Colorado came to the same conclusion. Mask-wearing changes nothing.

A protester holds a placard during a protest against the use of masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside Ralph's grocery store in Los Angeles, California.
A protester holds a sign calling for no more mask restrictions outside Ralph’s grocery store in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2022.
REUTERS

This is a conclusion that our political elites clearly came to some time ago. Otherwise they would not have dared to remove their masks for their evenings of wine, music and Magic. They know that it is performance. But for them it comes at little cost.

Kids are suffering

The story for this country´s children is quite different. As the British government´s study pointed out, “Wearing face coverings may have physical side effects and impair face identification, verbal and non-verbal communication between teacher and learner.” It went on to identify other “detrimental impacts” on learning. But we don´t need a government report to tell us that. Most parents will know this for themselves. I know children whose progress has been set back immeasurably by the insistence that this city´s children must be masked. One friend has a child who is having to do speech therapy. The child’s teacher is vaccinated. The child is at no risk from COVID. But the two of them have to sit in their speech-therapy sessions, at a suitable distance, both fully masked.

Students of Montrara Ave. Elementary School are seen in their in-person class in Los Angeles, California.
Researchers have proven mask mandates do slow down children’s mental and physical development such as speech.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

It is just one of the many absurdities we could all cite. But it is not just an absurdity. It is also an outrage. An outrage that our politicians and policy makers do not have the guts to do what they should have done long ago, and remove the mandates on mask-wearing in schools. The governors and mayors of this city, like California, all know this. They could do what they said they were doing for such a long time and just “follow the science.” But will they? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Douglas Murray is a Senior Fellow at National Review Institute

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