Letter: Context is everything, Mr. Nelson
Another shot of Ross Nelson’s disinformation, debunked, by experts in their field who in fact know what they talk about, as opposed to someone who feels their personal liberty to not wear a mask, is more important than a person doing whatever one can to help protect those around them.
Ross Nelson’s consistent drum-beating about the non-effectiveness of wearing a mask is much like Rob Port’s continued beating up of Heidi Heitkamp. A cherry-picking of information combined with a lack of context.
Nelson: Science is useless against a panicked people We've entered a new age. Let's give it a warm, fuzzy title: how about CoronaReich?
Nelson: Just the facts, please Emotional, editorial descriptions such as “tragic” or “unfair” in a news account aren't neutral but opinion. College journalism departments skew heavily left, and it shows.
Nelson: Why the hysteria about masks?
Relative to the Denmark study Nelson so pompously throws out to bolster his case, is this from the American College of Physicians, published online Nov. 18 (bold emphasis mine).
“The [Denmark study] findings, however, should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in the community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections, because the trial did not test the role of masks in source control (transmission from an infected person to others) of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
They further write: “The editors of Annals of Internal Medicine chose to publish the DANMASK-19 trial because it is a well-designed study that provides an important piece of evidence to understand the puzzle of how to control the COVID-19 pandemic. They also note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently updated their guidance to acknowledge that masks, when worn by all, may reduce transmission by both source control and personal protection. They say that the DANMASK-19 trial does not conflict with these guidelines, but shows that any contribution to risk reduction through personal protection is likely to be less than through source control.”
In essence, then, the study shows that face masks did not have a large protective effect for wearers — not that masks provide no protection at all, or don’t offer benefits to others. Even the authors of the study say the results shouldn’t be interpreted to mean masks shouldn’t be worn.
As to Nelson’s use of the New York Times showing that “immunity likely will last for years,” again, context is everything. In an online Times article of Dec. 5, updated Dec. 10, different from the one Nelson uses, is the following quote, which does supports Nelson’s stance: “. . . the evidence so far suggests that [natural immunity] protection will persist for years, preventing serious illness, if not reinfection.”
But here is the kicker. The same article then contains this information: “But there is a 'massive dynamic range' in [any Covid] immune response, with a 200-fold difference in antibody levels. In people who are only mildly ill, the immune protection that can prevent a second infection may wane within a few months. . .The diversity in the immune response from natural infection might be because of differences in the amount of virus to which the person was exposed.”
The article also goes on to provide this information: “As many as one in three people who recover from Covid have chronic complaints, including exhaustion and a racing heart, for months afterward. This includes people under 35 with no previous health conditions. Some survivors of Covid also show troubling signs that their body has turned on itself, with symptoms similar to those of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.”
The US has now passed the 300,000 mark of COVID deaths, with experts believing that number stands a good chance of doubling—or more—within the next six to eight weeks, even with the (limited) availability of a vaccine. If true, this will tax our already exhausted and depressed health care workers even more. But yeah, by all means let us all continue to do what we can to make them even more exhausted and depressed, by, as Nelson suggests, not wearing masks.
So there you have it. Another shot of Ross Nelson’s disinformation, debunked, by experts in their field who in fact know what they talk about, as opposed to someone who feels their personal liberty to not wear a mask, is more important than a person doing whatever one can to help protect those around them. Yes, wearing a mask is a pain in the a--, but in all likelihood, such a minor inconvenience will not last forever. When compared to the hardships people in the U.S. faced, say, during the rationing times of World War II, complaining about mask wearing is akin to the immature pettiness of a petulant child.
And yes, Ross, context is everything.
Stash Hempeck lives in Hendrum, Minn.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.