Have you heard the news?
The worldwide trial with respect to the chief mitigation measure we can take regarding the Coronavirus has been completed.
And the results are conclusive.
What worldwide trial?
Well, the field test! The actual nation-to-nation real-life test regarding the effectiveness of masking up; the nation-by-nation, take-no-prisoners approach to what really happens to people who either wear a mask or don’t in their everyday lives.
Still not familiar with the trial?
Well, it took place in the only venue that really matters—real life. People actually lost lives. And people didn’t.
It’s what has happened nation-by-nation among the world’s people these past eight months.
In those nations where people masked up, in public, total deaths numbered in the single and double digits. In those nations where people often didn’t, where there were no consistent policies or practices, where their leaders minimized or scoffed at the seriousness of the Pandemic–where many people took their chances without masks–the number of deaths from Covid-19 number in the tens and hundreds of thousands.
Want the specifics? O.K., here they are. Total number of Covid-19 deaths in Taiwan, which ramped up production of masks and people wore masks religiously: 7. Similar policies and practices were attempted in New Zealand, resulting in a grand total of 25 Covid-19 deaths. Singapore had 28 deaths; Vietnam 35.
In places where such policies and practices weren’t instituted, especially where government leaders themselves flaunted their freedom not to wear masks, the results were drastically different. We need not mention all of them, so we’ll note the most obvious. The United States has had 265,000 deaths. Brazil has had 170,000.
And notably, one U.S. state has been said this week to be the worldwide hotspot for Covid-19 infections. South Dakota had one day in which there was a 37% positivity test rate. One in 13 South Dakotans have had the virus, while Gov. Kristi Noem continues to downplay the importance of wearing masks.
The results mirror the conclusions of L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez just a couple months into the Pandemic. Hearing that intensely-densely populated Hong Kong had experienced only four Covid-19 deaths during the same time period that New York City, with a comparable population, had experienced 27,000, Lopez called a friend’s relative living in Hong Kong to find out what their “secret” was. The Hong Kong native explained that 98-99% of Hong Kong’s population voluntarily masked up the moment they heard of the Wuhan virus.
And then there was also the story coming from Sweden, where the health “experts” took a different tac with regard to the virus. Banking on the development of “herd immunity” through the mass exposure of its populace to the virus, Sweden eschewed masks as well as the other social distancing measures, and was expecting to be out of the woods by now. However, quite the opposite has been the case, as the Swedes have now experienced more deaths–over 6,000– than their three neighboring Scandinavian countries combined.
More than that, I still have the CDC’s report about two young haircutters in a Missouri salon who both came down with the virus and continued to work while symptomatic for 8 or 9 days. They cut and styled the hair of hundreds of customers, but because both they and 98-99% of their customers wore masks, incredibly, none of their customers got sick. However, one of the hairstylists, when unmasked and around friends and neighbors, infected six of them.
To be clear, the trend here seems overwhelming, but it requires “double-masking,” to coin a term. Somehow, both parties in any transaction involving the possibility of sharing air with others requires both to be masked up, to prevent the spread of the disease.
After all, it is a respiratory illness. That means that it is going to be spread from respiratory organ to respiratory organ primarily by means of the air we breathe. So, it only makes sense that both noses and mouths need to be covered to prevent the spread, or the inhalation, of the virus through the air that might possibly be shared by people breathing, talking, laughing, singing, coughing or sneezing in close proximity. In other words, on the surface, just logically speaking, wearing masks over mouth and nose to prevent the virus’ spread makes perfect sense.
So why are there experts who recommend otherwise?
We all know some. One doctor whom I respect cites the fact that the virus itself is much smaller than any particle or microbe that even an N-95 mask can filter out. The result is that the people who enter his practice are not required to wear masks. More than that, he claims that the over-all death rate in our nation is no greater than at the same period in any normal year. Thus, he has declared the Pandemic over.
It just leaves me scratching my head. Why then do we have these kind of statistics—in which the number of deaths in nations not observing mask requirements is thousands of times greater than those who do? Why do we repeatedly hear of nurses and doctors and hospitals who are at their limit and beyond with patients who are suffering from Covid-19 and need critical care? Why are there places like El Paso where hospitals are requiring mobile morgues—multiple refrigerated semi-trailers parked around their perimeters to house the dozens of bodies of those who have died of the virus? And finally, why is it that the very doctors and nurses who care for these terribly ill victims of the virus always, without exception, mask up not only with N-95s, but also face shields and other kinds of protective equipment, if those same masks, shields and personal protective gear are completely ineffective and unnecessary?
I wonder if there isn’t a blind spot in the kind of thinking that says since the virus is so small, masks are not effective. Everything I’ve heard is that the virus is a hitchhiker on the microscopic, and sometimes not-so-microscopic, aerosol droplets that are often exhaled, especially when we cough or sneeze. My unscientific guess is that the reason masks prove to be effective is that those droplets aren’t nearly so small and are largely stopped by those wearing masks from infecting others.
My conclusion is that those who doubt the effectiveness of masks seem to focus, for some reason, on the limited and theoretical reasons why they shouldn’t work, rather than on the fact that somehow, in real life, from nation-to-nation, they do.
No, the case for masks is not any more airtight than the masks themselves—which is the very reason why some nurses and doctors get sick and die. Then again, consider the conditions under which they’re working—often continually exposed to multiple very-infected people, often all in the same ward for 12-plus hours a day under great stress and grief, while experiencing tremendous fatigue. Considering how contagious the virus has turned out to be, the miracle is that any of them don’t get sick—which is also a testimony to the effectiveness of personal protective gear, and, in particular, the masks.
How many of them would dare work without a mask, and every other piece of personal protective equipment they can obtain? Would you?
As Christians, it seems to me, we need to think biblically about this matter. Sure, we can insist on our rights as free Americans to do as we please. Many Americans are doing that with regard to all kinds of immorality and sin, claiming that our Constitution protects their right to have sex with and marry whomever they please, even members of the same sex, to abort and murder their babies and to intoxicate themselves with whatever substance they please at the potential risk of others’ lives.
Why does the God of the Bible consider these behaviors to be sin? It’s because our rights end where other’s rights begin. Immorality, whatever kind of immorality it is—fornication, adultery, theft, slander, covetousness—is immoral because it endangers and ultimately takes away things that properly belong to others, whether it is their virginity, their self-respect, their reputation, their mates, their property or their very lives.
And guess what? What is it that we are risking or endangering when we are insisting on our freedom not to wear a mask during a Pandemic like this? It is other people’s health, their livelihood, their loved ones and even their lives! And if Christ’s love demonstrates anything for us, it’s this—that we ought to be willing to give our lives to save others rather than to demand our rights at the expense of others.
Christ came not to free us TO sin, but to free us FROM sin!
Yes, I know that there are some who can’t wear masks due to legitimate issues having to do with their health, their ability to breathe or respiratory conditions. So I issue an exception and exhortation for folks such as these—be careful to socially distance so as not to endanger others out of the love of Christ and your resultant love for others.
But with regard to those believers who are insisting on their Constitutional freedom not to wear masks, I ask this question: Who are you and what are you really all about? Are you all about humbly following Jesus and living by His love, or pridefully and selfishly insisting on a freedom God hasn’t given you, that you may claim the Constitution gives you, which is to endanger other people’s lives, health, loved ones and livelihood by simply failing to mask up in a time such as this?
Jesus asks us to be willing to give our lives for one another (John 15:13). Who are we to say no to the One who gave His life for us?
As effective and safe vaccines appear to be rolling out, in six months this will likely be over. Now is not the time to drop our guard, or our masks!