Understanding Statistics Re: Masks

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    A recent widely reported study found that 71% of those who contracted COVID reported always wearing a mask.

    Some people, even the president, and some posters on this site, are citing this statistic as if it proves masks don’t help (or that masks even increase the likelihood of getting virus!). This is completely, utterly wrong.

    The statistic means nothing in isolation, except that masks aren’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t get it (which no one has ever claimed.)

    The relevant question is, “What is the relative risk of getting COVID among people who always wear masks outside the home, versus people who never wear them?” You’d have to survey both people who did get COVID (as in the 71% statistic) AND people who didn’t get COVID. (To ensure accuracy, you’d also need to control for the amount of interaction people had with others.)

    Anyway, the result could be expressed like this: People who always wear masks are ___% less likely to get COVID than people who never wear masks.

    Even if masking only decreases the likelihood of an individual getting COVID by, let’s say, 10 or 20 percent, that would have a huge effect on the population as a whole, preventing thousands of deaths.

    There are in fact a number of studies showing masks reduce the transmission of viruses, including COVID, which b’ezras Hashem I will post later.

    Don’t listen to the misinformation floating about. “Man is simple but he makes many intrigues.” (Koheles.) Simply follow halacha: dina malchusa dina.


    For this to be accurate, you would need to control many other aspects as well such as if the people were taking vitamin D and C and other supplements, whether they were sleeping well, eating well, washing their hands a lot, davening hard, blood type, and many, many other factors. Reality is that there are MANY prevention and treatment options that work and so it doesn’t really matter if masks work anymore.


    The biggest issue is is that it’s very hard to quantify on a real life basis.
    The studies that show that masks reduce aerosol spray and therefore reduce viral particles are all lab produced studies. Those studies show that you can reduce aerosols depending upon the type of mask by anywhere from two times to 26 times.
    And that’s for the person wearing the mask. Obviously additional protection is given if the other people in the room are also wearing masks.
    The biggest question is how does this affect the overall pandemic spread?
    To quote a recent VuMedi post put out by a top virologist “ It’s hard to say exactly, but in south east Asia where the culture has always been to wear masks, they are doing much better than we are“

    The little I know

    There are conflicting studies on the benefits of masking. The research methodologies used are dissimilar, so one cannot even venture to group them to find more representative statistics. From whatever I have seen, the use of masks “might” contribute to a reduction in airborne transmission of corona. However, I suspect that there is too much emphasis on this. I believe there are other forms of transmission that are being ignored or not studied because of the obsession with masks and social distancing. This includes the lockdowns having questionable results, much of which might be attributed to the fluctuations that would exist anyway.

    Particularly disturbing is the politicizing of all this, which lends a myth of scientific credibility to something that simply lacks true scientific support. I would love to see solid research on the effectiveness of masks, plus a properly controlled study of the actual reduction of cases of the virus.


    Masks are incredibly harmful because they lower oxygen levels in the blood (leading to hypoxia) while raising carbon dioxide levels (leading to hypercapnia), and force you to inhale and exhale more forcefully, stressing the cardio-pulmonary system. This is especially dangerous for the elderly.

    Even doctors who wear surgical masks do so to prevent them from drooling into a patient’s wound, not to protect them from pathogens, and hospitals are required to increase oxygen levels to compensate for the loss of oxygen in the mask. There’s an entire body of OSHA regulations that requires that workers be tested to see if they’re fit to wear a mask and for how long—it’s dangerous stuff and can cause dizziness, fainting, and headaches.


    Your right the evidence is mixed. But recent studies (including a “natural experiment” comparing states with and without mask mandates) have shown community mask use reduces the spread of the virus. Certainly, masks will work best when combined with social distancing, hand washing and other measures. Masks also shouldn’t make us complacent and willing to take unnecessary risks for our and other’s health, such as going in public while having systems or spending time in crowding indoor places. They don’t prevent all transmission, but they do reduce it.

    There’s also a compelling logical explanation for why this would be. The main way the virus is spread is through droplets of water in the air that come out of people’s mouths and nose while they talk, sneeze and breathe. The amount of these droplets being emitted is drastically reduced when properly wearing a mask. The idea that since viruses are smaller than the holes in masks, masks must be useless, is completely wrong because this ignores the role of droplets.

    Regardless, people shouldn’t cherry-pick studies to justify flouting public health guidelines, causing a chillul Hashem, violating halacha (dina malchusa dina and pikuach nefesh). There are indeed some studies showing masks work, the government is mandating them, and many rabbonim are also requiring them.


    The מלאך המות doesn’t read studies or check for masks. He answers to the Highest Power.

    Note to moderator: I am in Israel.


    Pekak: The Highest Power requires us to follow halacha, which includes 1) dina malchusa dina, 2) pikuach nefesh, and 3) guard yourself (your health) very well (Devarim 4:9). We also must do our hishtadlus and not rely on a neis.


    @maskup, do you want to try wearing a face shield? They are usually worn with the mask, but if you don’t plan to wear a mask, a face shiled would work for you?

    from physics POV – it does not restrain oxygen; it unquestionably stops direct droplets, and probably reduces smaller aerosol as airflow goes from the bottom

    sociologically – it shows people that you are not brazen and will reduce hillul Hashem and blood pressure for everyone. Also less ayn hara for you fro mbeing cursed by passerbys

    psychologically – you’ll prove to yourself that you are not such a lazy bum, but can bother spending $5 on the pandemic


    “The מלאך המות doesn’t read studies or check for masks. He answers to the Highest Power.”

    Regardless, you should not jump off tall buildings, run out in front of a speeding bus, or go outside without a face mask.


    @מלאך המות

    Can we look at the sources that support this position? There are religions that hold by fatalism, but I think religion of this website generally does not.

    I can understand that someone could be destined for an outcome that he can’t change with his action at some point. Are you saying that all anti-maskers are, has vesholom, in this position? and furthermore, they perfectly know that they are? maybe they should try teshuva ASAP, “what do you have to lose” (TM)

    I see one possible justification, if, again has veshalom, the whole world, or just some nations, are being punished. Maybe then we should focus on a larger aspects of teshuva instead of fighting the invisible virus. Is this your position?

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