The CDC and mask mandates: Unmasking the truth |
By Norbert Michel and Doug Badger |
April 27, 2021, National Interest |
How reliable are government declarations that mask mandates prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
Not very, as a new article by Norbert Michel and Doug Badger in National Interest demonstrates. With the Center for Disease Control’s announcement this week that it’s okay for vaccinated people to, sometimes, go maskless outside, it’s time to unmask the truth.
“[T]he CDC has left us less than confident that the public should trust the agency’s published research, much less any pronouncements based on that research.” They write:
Our problem involves a paper that the CDC published in November. The paper studies mask mandates in Kansas because, in July, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an optional mask mandate.
Counties could decide whether to enforce the mandate or opt-out. Many counties did opt-out, but the larger metropolitan areas did not. Overall, twenty-four counties implemented a mask mandate, and eighty-one opted out.
The CDC paper argues that the mandates were a success. In particular, the paper claims that “the increasing trend in COVID-19 incidence reversed” in the Kansas counties with mask mandates.
This conclusion is incorrect. A longer paper by Norbert Michel and Kevin Dayaratna, who corresponded with the CDC about its mask mandate data, explains that the trend did not reverse in those counties. Moreover, the growth in reported case incidence (and mortality) was, overall, virtually indistinguishable in counties with and without mask mandates.
It turns out that the CDC’s paper made an incorrect assertion because the authors used data that was later updated. As statistical studies go, this sort of mistake is surely forgivable.
However, the CDC’s refusal to publicly acknowledge this incorrect assertion is inexcusable. There simply is no room in legitimate scientific study for refusal to admit mistakes…
Government officials and the American people depend on legitimate scientific study, and they have shown extraordinary deference to the CDC throughout the past year. This deference rests on the presumption that the agency’s recommendations to shutter businesses, close schools, restrict public worship, and enforce mask mandates have a solid basis in science.
That confidence, in many instances, appears to have been misplaced.
Click to Read the more detailed paper by Dayaratna and Michel for Heritage upon which the article is based.