Are we being tested to see how gullible and afraid we are? The CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci now recommend wearing two and even three masks for our COVID protection, not to mention wet masks (like old cars' air filters that used oil to catch debris). A further suggestion is to wear nylon hosiery underneath them, a sure hit in any bank lobby.

These suggestions arise because masking hasn't worked. The corona reich leaders are in a dither as masking mandates and lockdowns appear to be failing to stop COVID-19; in fact there's a mini-resurgence happening now in many states and countries. The proof of failure is about as clear as such matters admit. Compare COVID infection rates among the Midwest states and we find that the freer, less harsh COVID policy-ridden states (the Dakotas, Nebraska, etc.) have fared better than their liberal siblings such as Minnesota and Ohio. Texas, less restrictive than draconian New Jersey, has excelled the latter in low infection rates as well.

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In fact, the evidence is chockablock that scorched earth COVID policies such as Michigan's have been ineffective, although good at pricking up the ears of tyrants. The same in Europe: Sweden's and England's infection rates have risen and fallen almost in unison and yet Sweden has suffered less despite being more open. Vermont has gotten off fairly lightly as has Cambodia, and nobody yet knows why. It's the nature of the pandemic beast. Note how well the Dakotas did last year until late. Then, almost synchronously and inexplicably the pandemic took off in the two states, their charts tracking each other closely, but again: unmasked South Dakota's pandemic numbers were comparable to those of mask-mandated North Dakota.

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Overbearing COVID policy has crushed millions of Americans in their schools, health and jobs. Never has government been so fecklessly destructive in a pandemic for so little result. We're told we should mask through 2022 or perhaps forever if COVID variants are coming. All this only to find out that, if Columbia University's Dr. Jeffrey Shaman is correct, we're verging on herd immunity anyway. Most cases are so mild (some 80%, he estimates) they're never diagnosed. He told The Forum that the true rate of infection in North Dakota is five times higher than the confirmed rate. This means that hospitalization and death rates are only a fifth of what experts now claim, about on the level of the flu or lower.

Forum columnist Rob Port was on the front page with his harrowing encounter with the disease. However, he erred in his conclusions. COVID was already declining when Gov. Doug Burgum mandated masks, but Port was in good company when he fell for that old “post hoc ergo baloney hoc” fallacy. Further, since masking was ineffective our hospitals were likely under no more stress than they would have been with no masking command at all. And no more stressed than the hospitals in South Dakota which did fine, despite no statewide masking diktat.

We're a sorry bunch compared to our ancestors.. In three generations we've gone from the greatest to the cringiest generation.

Nelson lives in Casselton, N.D., and is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion page. Email him at dualquad413@gmail.com.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.