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FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The canceled federal conference on climate change and health problem is back on but apparently minus the federal government. Former Vice President Al Gore, the University of Washington, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the American Public Health Association are resurrecting a climate change and health conference set for next month that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had planned then canceled in December. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Remember when U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said, “You can increase your risk of getting [COVID-19] by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic?

During that same media appearance, Adams also said, “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus.”

And then he said this, “There are things people can do to stay safe. There are things they shouldn’t be doing and one of the things they shouldn’t be doing in the general public is going out and buying masks.”

My how things have changed. In the span of a few months, the World Health Organization (WHO) and several prominent U.S. public health officialdoms now say masks are practically a necessity to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But, is this the case? Do masks actually deter the spread of coronavirus to the degree the so-called public health experts and politicians claim they do? Well, the answer to this significant question is much more muddled than most have come to believe.

For starters, WHO has historically (before the coronavirus pandemic) stated that masks do little, if anything, to stop the spread of viruses like COVID-19.

In fact, at the very outset of the pandemic, WHO released a report stating, “there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”

Furthermore, on February 5, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield tweeted, “CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus. #2019nCoV is not spreading in communities in the US. Take everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of respiratory illness.”

And, like the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also been against the universal wearing of masks to prevent the spread of viral infections.

In May 2020, a CDC report stated, “In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.”

The CDC report also notes, “Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids. There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

Given the historical stance of several leading public health groups regarding the uselessness of wearing masks to prevent the spread of viral diseases, one cannot help but wonder why there has been such a sudden change of heart on this topic.

Well, here is one guess for the abrupt about-face: politics. It seems well within reason to assume that many of these public officials and the institutions they work for could be bowing to political pressure. Because, for one reason or another, the wearing of masks (like so many other things in 2020) has become politicized.

And this is not a right v. left issue. It seems that the vast majority of America’s (and the world’s) elites have somehow concluded (sans evidence) that wearing a piece of cloth is the greatest guard against spreading the coronavirus.

This is ludicrous and flies in the face of common sense. How can a piece of fabric prevent the dispersion of micro-droplets that are so small they can only be seen under a powerful microscope?

One need not be Albert Einstein to come to the realization that a piece of fabric is far from an impenetrable barrier to miniscule droplets that can easily penetrate the fibers of a cloth mask.

And if one really needs to know whether or not masks actually do anything other than make one feel claustrophobic and look rather ridiculous, just look at Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). For months, Pelosi has been lecturing the nation on how important it is to wear a mask.

But, when Pelosi defied local rules to receive an unnecessary hair treatment, the Speaker of the House did so while maskless. Ah, the irony is almost too good to be true.

When it comes to wearing masks and abiding by their own senseless rules, we can be sure that hypocrites like Pelosi are adhering to their “golden rule”: Do as I say, not as I do.

That alone should cause all Americans to take a second and think about what this is really all about: control and subservience.

Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.