Mask Disinformation Forces

Our local Wisconsin State Representative Michael Schraa is using his Facebook page to get anti mask supporters out to Winnebago County legislative committee meetings, Winnebago County board meetings, and Oshkosh City Council meetings to speak against any form of a mask ordinance. He was joined by Donnie Herman who is running for an adjoining district representative seat. I watched citizen presentations for three hours at the July 2020 county board meeting. There were only 4 folks who spoke in favor of the ordinance. The four were Lois Gruetzmacher a retired public health nurse who was booed by the crowd. Dr. Eric Smiltneek, a practicing Oshkosh Physician who spoke early and was ignore, my wife Dr. Patricia Dwyer-Hallquist, and myself. My wife and myself spoke at the end of the meeting on zoom, when most folks had left. Most of the anti-mask talks were along three themes, it is our right not to wear masks, mask are not effective, we don’t want a public health officer who is not an elected official to have enforcement powers.
Representative Schraa’s Facebook page is littered with disinformation posts about masks including fake CDC papers with questionable grammar. Representative Schraa is stating “we the people have rights and freedoms not to wear a mask”, never touching on the issue of protecting fellow Americans from contracting a virus that has long term unknown consequences. Donnie Herman and Representative Schraa are small business owners. Yet there was no mention of the the responsibility of an employer to protect their customers and employees. No concerns from the anti-mask crowd despite nearly 1000 American deaths per day.
This spring’s Parameters the quarterly officers magazine published by the United States War College has a Special Commentary: “#FakeNews in #NarSec Handleing Misinformation.” This United States War College publication describes disinformation spreading like a viral pathogen through the internet via social media. This is just one of many publications on Russian disinformation cyber warfare against the United States on the US Army War College Website. Fake CDC papers with questionable grammar has the signature of Russian trolls working for the Russian military spreading disinformation by getting folks to re-post disinformation on Facebook. Representative Schraa needs to screen these disinformation posts. In most times this conduct could be ignored, but with a pandemic it is proving deadly. Taiwan with a weekly mask allotment had fewer deaths total since the Pandemic’s beginning than we average every 15 minutes in this country. Korea controlled a initial outbreak at an evangelical church with about 300 deaths total since the pandemic started. A person is 140 times more likely to get Covid-19 in Wisconsin than Korea with direct flights from Wuhan and crowded cities unlike any in Wisconsin. I listened to 3 hours of citizen statements telling us that masks don’t work despite the total deaths from the start of the outbreak in Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan is less than 400.
I would like to review some of the presentations. The first major disinformation follows this reasoning. Since mask filter at .3 microns and viruses are .2 microns masks do not stop a virus. The speaker keeps saying this is only “common sense.” On this blog I show a picture of a mask with red dye stained saliva after coughing into it. The mask traps the Aerosol and droplets as seen by the dye splatter. A mask is not trying to stop the single virus, it is stopping a million viruses contained in a droplet. In other words the mask is not trying to stop an individual snow flake, but is stopping the fifty snow balls containing hundreds of thousand of snow flakes. Viruses travel in droplets and aerosols. A mask is stopping the droplet or aerosol leaving the mouth and preventing it from becoming airborne. Breathing in a half million viruses deep into the lungs and having a thousand attach to ACE2 receptors is the problem, not a single virus. Folks are re- posting posts about filtering, as true science. The disinformation army loves code words like “common sense” as that is a magical phrase that support their argument, so no research is needed. This virus does not care about your “common sense”. The original writer of the disinformation understands it is a blatant lie.
Another post brings up a H1N1 study that showed no effectiveness for masks with H1N1. Apparently, they read a headline and failed to read the all the discussion about the H1N1 study. The study was based on Heath Care Workers. Health Care Workers get yearly vaccines which often included an earlier H1N1 flu virus. They also have been exposed more to H1N1 than non-Health Care Workers. This epidemic started in April and some got exposure to the virus before the study. They also get exposure to the virus outside of their work. H1N1 is the virus Health Care Workers may have partial immunity for. Discussions of this study cover these issued. Over all masks are 45% effective for flu. However, Covid-19 is a novel coronal virus and it is appropriate to look at studies of novel coronal viruses. A study of SARS which is a novel virus like Covid-19 had an 80% effectiveness rate. Unlike H1N1 Health Care Workers had no prior exposure to SARS, no prior vaccine and the only setting that they were exposed to in was the health care setting. Epidemiologist use SARS as a model because it is a novel Coronal Virus like Covid-19.
The biggest flaw in using H1N1 effectiveness study as an argument is that they are not based on universal mask wearing which requires everyone to wear a mask. That Minimizes the infection at the source, namely the asymptomatic carrier. None of the studies cited by the disinformation posts were looking at having the source of the virus with a mask. Health Care Workers were in an environment where infected folks were coughing and sneezing and the virus was airborne. Today if you go into most medical facilities you are given a mask at the door so the aerosol from the cough or sneeze is minimized. Analysis of these studies show the importance of everyone wearing a mask, not just the Health Care Worker.
Another argument is masks interfere with my immune system getting stronger by not being exposed to germs. Masks reduce the viral load, they do not eliminate it. You will have plenty exposure. What it mainly reduces is the viral load leaving the infected person.
Another reported masks trap CO2. CO2 is a three atom molecule. A virus is a 90,000 atom structure which has a diameter that is 1000 times larger than CO2. CO2 travels very well through a .3 micron mask.
To say masks are not effective you have to ignore the outcomes in three major countries that have strict mask requirements, ignore that overall Covid-19 infections have gone down in states with mask requirements, but overall have gone up in states without them. These folks will find one or two states with exception to those trends, post that, then ignore the 48 states which follow the trend. That is disinformation.
These folks often cite websites devoted to promoting conspiracy theories. When it comes to conspiracy theories that call everything a Hoax, it is best to refer to papers on the US Army War College website under publications. They have paper that detail our military’s counter intelligence along with dozens of publications on the US Army War College about Russian disinformation. One of the most upsetting posts is a paper that Representative Schraa posted from an attorney author criticizing the worst case models from last March Epidemiologist only had two novel coronal viruses to model from, SARS with a 9% mortality rate and MERS with a 30% rate. I checked this author, and this was the first publication on models. Monday back quarterbacking 4 months after the game ended, not nice or fair. It is easy to look back and say what we got wrong, which was a lot, but we also need to acknowledge what countries like Taiwan got right which was universal masking and the anti-mask folks still get it wrong. At the time of the first models, epidemiologist said we don’t know a lot about this virus, but they hoped is would not be deadly, like the other two coronal viruses, but they had to plan for the worst case outcome based on The most important thing about this virus we won’t know for several years, what is the long term effects of lung, heart and kidney damage that physicians find in many asymptomatic patients.
One person did ask me why we should mask against a virus that may eventually infect us all. That is a good question. Physicians will find better treatments, better drugs, and possible a vaccine. The longer you avoid getting the virus, the better the chance that there will be a treatment that keeps you from having long term heart or lung damage that may show up as COPD when you enter retirement. Lets see the outcome of Sweden’s experiment before we rush into herd immunity. To me too many elderly died in Sweden. Korea and Taiwan did keep their economy open. That seems to be a better model, universal masking and keep the economy open.

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