Covid, Public Health, Government and Some Solid Advice

Ron Knecht

Two real experts on Covid – Drs. Marty Makary and H. Cody Meissner – recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal “The Case Against Masks for Children.”

First, they debunked the myth that masks can’t do any harm:

“Those who have myopia can have difficulty seeing because the mask fogs their glasses. … Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems.  The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning.  By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.  And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long.”

They added: “The possible psychological harm of widespread masking is an even greater worry. … Covering a child’s face mutes [the] nonverbal forms of communication and can result in robotic and emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression.  Seeing people speak … is especially important for children with disabilities such as hearing impairment.”

They noted the recent rate of hospitalization for children is less than 0.5 cases per million individuals.  And children are at minimal risk for long-term Covid.  They seldom transmit Covid, and a “study conducted before vaccines were available found not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission when 90,000 students were in school.”

Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want all children and adolescents to cover their faces.  So, many local authorities want to mandate it.  And Dr. Anthony Fauci and other politicians posing as experts go back and forth, saying masks are useless and then they are necessary, maybe even double-masking.  And of course EVERYONE MUST be vaccinated and wear masks, even if they’ve already had the virus.

Why all these often contradictory and scientifically unsupported mandates?

It’s all the result of public health ideology, an outgrowth of the progressive movement and the excesses of the modern administrative state.  Public health theory and practice is a bastardized version of real medicine.  Real medicine focuses on the individual, as properly does the law.

When I see my doctors, they review my personal situation at length and in detail.  What drugs am I now taking?  What procedures have I had?  What do various tests show?  To what am I allergic?  Etc.  Only after full consideration of all relevant factors do they prescribe treatment.

That’s not the case for public health.  It’s become the art of prescribing treatment for entire populations without regard to many conditions of various subgroups, let alone the complete condition of each individual.  Epidemiological public health theory and practice is predicated on the idea that by prescribing treatments and behaviors for a whole population (with certain and too few exceptions), the prevalence of a particular problem can be sufficiently mitigated or eradicated.

The problem is that public health focuses mostly only on the one issue and often misses the unintended consequences of failing to consider fully other relevant factors.  That’s like a baseball pitcher focusing only on getting the ball somewhere over the plate and ignoring how often hitters are getting on base and scoring runs.

The nearly two-year history of Covid is a good example of the problem.  Don’t wear masks.  Whoops!  Everybody wear masks!  Whoops!  Masks won’t stop the delta variant, and quite possibly the vaccines won’t either.  But get the vaccine and wear masks anyway!

Also in the Journal, two outstanding economists, Casey Mulligan and Thomas Philipson, noted government failure gave the world Covid.  And markets provided the remedies.  Medicine and to a great extent markets address individuals; public health, progressivism and government overreach by dealing with groups.

However, sometimes the exhortations of true believers are right on point.  Consider the following I found online:

“Enough debates already!  Just go out and get it, alright?

“It protects you.  It protects your family.  Everybody in the community.  Everyone is safer if you get one.  It has been scientifically, mathematically, statistically proven that everyone is safer when you get one.

“Communities that have them are overwhelmingly safer places!  And chances of side effects or accidents are infinitesimally small.

“So, quit wasting time!  Stop arguing online!  Do the responsible thing for everyone.  Embrace your Second Amendment rights and purchase a firearm for your protection and that of others.”

‘Nuff said.

Ron Knecht

Ron Knecht

Senior Policy Fellow

Ron Knecht, MS, JD & PE(CA), is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Nevada Policy Research Institute.  Previously, he served Nevadans as State Controller, a higher education Regent, Senior Economist, college teacher and Assemblyman.  Contact him at