punished by God”–‘You cannot escape God–Not even with the mask…’
At a Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week, numerous residents challenged the compulsory face mask orders.
See The Uncut Video of Woman Who Blasted Lawmakers for ‘Obeying Devil’s Law’
Residents of Palm Beach County blasted commissioners’ decision to enact mandatory face mask rules, with many calling the measure an overstep of their authority.
aggressive approach to handling the plandemic. Everyone in the state, minus a few exceptions, will now have to wear a face mask, and will be charged with a misdemeanor crime if they fail to do so.
Have you ever watched flood waters rise on a street, the kind that you will often see with hurricane swells? If you have, then you know that when the water level gets so high on a road you prior to that could drive on, that contained in those flood waters was debris and
garbage of every conceivable kind. A veritable witch’s brew of waste. So it is now with everything the New World Order is forcing upon us, they are attacking relentlessly, from every angle, all the time.
The idea is to not let you catch your breath, no pun of any kind intended. They are literally trying to take our breath away. Now put your masks on, sit down and shut up.
Governor Janet Mills is trying to pass a law in Maine that would make it illegal to go to any public place without a mask. If it passes, the good citizens of Maine could be charged with a Class E crime and face a $1000 fine or 6 months in jail.
This is happening all over America as the end times spirit of Antichrist continues to rise.
The New England Journal of Medicine writes that “the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic”, and the global elites are making full use of our innate fear of COVID-19, and so much the more so as they bombard us with fear-laden messaging around the clock. So now it’s a crime to not wear a mask? Soon it will be public executions to make an example
out of the ones who refuse to comply. Think that can’t happen? You better go read up on Nazi Germany, it did happen, and it will happen again.
Jun 26, 2020
Meanwhile, Bill Gates announces blacks to be forcibly inoculated first. Fight back! Share this link! Start your weekend informed with this Friday edition of the most banned broadcast in the world! TO WATCH THE VIDEO CLICK HERE
When, early in the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, production shortages of medical grade N95 masks turned obtaining them into a hunt for the grail, D.I.Y. ingenuity kicked into gear.
Suddenly people found themselves improvising lesser-grade face masks from fabric, scraps, bandannas, coffee filters, even sanitary pads. Newspapers (including The New York Times) published illustrated guides for making a mask. Both the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Boy Scouts of America issued new mask-making merit badges.
Multinational luxury goods labels diverted their assembly lines to the manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment. Venerable Savile Row tailors got into the act and so, too, did a young surfer botanist in Hawaii, David Shepard, whose lacy line drawings of native flora transform a public health necessity into a paean to a biosphere that now feels more menacing than friendly.
Even before the face mask evolved into a defining emblem of the global battle against the virus, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History had mobilized a Rapid Response Collecting Task Force to collect artifacts related to the pandemic— Hazmat suits, masks, store-closing fliers — and capture history as it unfolds.Reached at home, Alexandra Lord, a historian of medicine and the chair of the museum’s Medicine and Science Division, talked about masks and their multiple meanings. (This interview has been edited.)
How did this project get up and running so fast?
It was partly coincidence. We had been planning an exhibit titled “In Sickness and in Health’’ for 2021 — a study of two previous epidemics and a pandemic— and had been thinking a lot about the objects in our collections. Then, in December, we began monitoring reports on the virus. Sensing the impact and historical importance of this pandemic, we began focusing our collecting efforts on Covid-19.
We see that they were “already” working on this, by their own statements. You think it is coincidence? Are you really that gullible?
How did you decide what to collect?
Epidemics impact all parts of society. There is fallout in terms of businesses, schooling, the food services industry, culture. The military may play a role.Our five divisions came together quickly to create the task force, and as soon as we went to enhanced teleworking in March, our curators began getting in touch with different communities around the country.
They were already fully aware of the effects that epidemics have on the people. They have had multiple opportunities to test it, study it and perfect it.
We tend to think of pandemics in monolithic terms, yet there would seem to be many intertwining narratives
There are multiple kinds of stories. We started thinking about what kinds of objects we should be collecting and what stories we should be thinking about. Some communities are being impacted more than others — African-American communities are being especially hard hit, and nursing homes.
By design, the tool they are using to bring chaos is racial tension. Racial tension they designed and orchestrated.
But there are also restaurant workers, the homeless, workers in the food industry, especially meat processing plants. We have five curatorial divisions and 163 in staff in our curatorial departments. Even at that, it is a huge story for us to document.
All this is by design to change the structure and make doctors and nurses the new idols of the day.
What are the challenges of collecting objects during lockdown?
Some of it is a matter of us thinking about how to obtain the things we need to tell this story. A ventilator is an iconic object of this pandemic, but we obviously don’t want to go out and say we want a ventilator, putting stress and strain on that supply chain. We are apprehensive about going to an emergency room unit and talking to folks who have other things to think about. Masks in some places are still in short supply.
I believe that this was by design as well, along with the toiletpaper shortage. All part of creating the chaos, the fear, the panic, to steer people into the behavior they desired. To create the mindset.
So, we’ve gone to the U.S. Public Health Service and asked them to hold certain kinds of objects. A lot of it is telling people to hold on to things they might otherwise throw away.
A mask, for instance?
The mask is among the important objects we are collecting. One of the things we are thinking about is what kinds of mask should we collect. Different masks will tell different kinds of stories. There are masks for medical practitioners — the story of medical practitioners is fundamental to this. There are the various designs for homemade masks, including the one in your newspaper. I personally used that design.
There are masks you might make for a child that uses a fabric illustrating Paw Patrol. That object in and of itself — the size, the pattern — will tell visitors of the future what people were doing and how this felt. It will give them insight into the role of parents trying to protect their young. A mask that is not that well made tells you about people struggling to do their best.
Can masks be said to connect us to a larger medical history — germ theory, for instance — and epidemics and pandemics of the past?
We had already been doing this exhibition for 2021, so we began our planning long before the coronavirus pandemic occurred.That show begins with two previous epidemics — the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, an 1837 epidemic of smallpoxon the Great Plains — and a cholera pandemic that hit California in the wake of the 19th-centurygold rush.
What about the flu pandemic of 1918? They did not mention that one. Or how about these?
When we were planning it, we wanted to give visitors an understanding that diseases have always spread as people migrated. These things have happened before, although not especially on this scale. Pandemics are nothing new.
Yes, they are fully aware of that fact. Yet, isn’t it interesting that they were forcing countries to take in migrants all over the world just before they released this pandemic.
And have masks played a role in each?
Not all. Masks in the past did not have the same meaning they do today. Many previous epidemics and pandemics came about before germ theory. There were different ideas about what was causing disease. Some thought it was contagion. Some thought it was in the air. They thought it was bad air, and so they put a scented handkerchief in front of their faces.
You see how much/little they seem to have learned about viruses/flus/pandemics.
These strange accessories were thought to protect the wearer from deadly disease
Plague doctors wore a mask with a bird-like beak to protect them from being infected by deadly diseases such as the Black Death, which they believed was airborne. (which it very likely was)In fact, they thought disease was spread by miasma, a noxious form of ‘bad air.’ To battle this imaginary threat, the long beak was packed with sweet smells, such as dried flowers, herbs and spices. (I don’t see their guesses at where the virus comes from, how it spreads or what symptoms it presents to be any more scientific/accurate/worthwhile.)
However, though the beak mask has become an iconic symbol of the Black Death, there is no evidence it was actually worn during the 14th Century epidemic. Medical historians have in fact attributed the invention of the ‘beak doctor’ costume to a French doctor named Charles de Lorme in 1619. He designed the bird mask to be worn with a large waxen coat as a form of head-to-toe protection, modelled on a soldier’s armour. (So, they don’t even know for certain. They are just guessing. No factual history exists.)
The costume was worn by plague doctors during the Plague of 1656, which killed 145,000 people in Rome and 300,000 in Naples.
Photo: Paul Fürst, engraving, c. 1721, of a plague doctor of Marseilles
The masks disrupted lives in unexpected ways. A San Francisco fisherman said “bandits” in flu masks robbed him. A woman taking a train from Chicago to Pasadena, Calif., reportedly experienced a break from sanity when she disembarked and “beheld the masked city,”according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. And columnist Fay King bemoaned the new mustaches. Men who formerly “couldn’t bear to have [a] hairy lip classed with a tooth brush” were growing facial hair, now hidden behind the masks.
On Nov. 1, 1918, Eugene C. Caley became the first man in Oakland, Calif., to be arrested for not wearing a mask. He was released on bail, although similar scofflaws in San Francisco had been sentenced to up to 10 days in jail. (Departments donated revenue from fines to the Red Cross.)
“This is only the beginning,” said the chief of police, according to the Oakland Tribune. “We are going to enforce this mask ordinance if we have to pack the city jail with people. This epidemic is too serious to be taken as a joke, and men arrested … will find that it’s no laughing matter when they face the police judges.”
Some complained that the masks were “unsanitary,” and bureaucratic confusion could stymie whether they were worn. In Alexandria, La., a sanitation leader for the Army ordered flu masks be worn.But waiters removed theirs because their local public health official said that the masks prevented “free breathing,”according to the Town Talk.
Tobacco-chewing workers were “kept busy putting the masks on and off” to spit, reported the Fort Wayne Sentinel, while smokers became creative. One cigar vendor made doors in masks so that her wares could be enjoyed, reported the Oakland Tribune. One man fashioned a cigarette holder from a long rubber tube, and another simply shoved his mask up over his forehead.
“The masks worn by millions were useless as designed and could not prevent influenza,” Barry wrote. “Only preventing exposure to the virus could.”
Death Mask of Napoleon Bonaparte. ( The History Blog )
The closed eyes and uncannily peaceful expressions of death masks are frozen in time and show us a side of royalty, of military and political masters, of profound thinkers and artists, and of the everyday public that are long past and largely unknowable. They give us an impression of history that no written description or photographcan provide.
Death masks are clay, wax, or plaster casts of someone’s face, taken to preserve their imageshortly after death. In antiquity, this was done often following a death to identify rank or standing, to use in funerary rites, and to perfectly preserve the image of honored or eminent people.
Mummification preserved the deceased’s facial features in a satisfactory way for the ancient Egyptians, so early masks were stylized by artists and not made from a cast of the face. Such representations of the dead not only honored the deceased, but created connections to the afterlife, and its associated power.
Ancient Romans used wax to capture the faces of deceased family members, and then later, carved stone replicas were sculpted from the castings. And it was during the late Middle Ages that Europeans began casting death masks in plaster or wax.
A negative cast of the face was made which acted as a mould for the positive image. Several copies of a death mask could then be created. These masks were not interred with the dead, but preserved and used to create bronze or stone busts (Graven Images). These masks provided a final viewing of the deceased and commemorated their legacies.
People being publicly humiliated with shame masks and the stocks. ( liveinternet.ru)
Shame masks were a type of embarrassing punishment device used in Europeand New World colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was meant to humiliate the person who was forced to wear it. The masks were made of cold, unyielding metal and would have been tortuous when fitted tightly on the offender’s head. (It is reported that doctors know the masks we have to wear today cause headaches, nerve damage, neck strain and even blackouts.)
One variation, the ‘scold’s bridle’ was essentially a mask or metal cage that encased the head of the wearer, and it was attached to a locking iron muzzle. In the 16th century ‘scold’ was used to describe a woman who was a gossip, a shrew, or bad-tempered. To prevent the woman from speaking, this device was also fitted with an iron curb that projected into her mouth and rested on the top of it. Sometimes the curb was studded with spikes, which inflicted pain on the woman if she tried to speak.
Shame masks were also used to punish people, in particular women, who were found guilty of gossiping, gluttony, eavesdropping, and lying. These masks had different designs meant to inflict further discomfort and / or humiliation, as well as to indicate the type of offence its wearer had committed.
Some masks, for example, were shaped like the heads of certain animals. A cow-headed shame mask meant that its wearer was lazy, and donkey-headed or rabbit-headed ones were used by fools and eavesdroppers respectively. Other shame masks were designed with exaggerated facial features, such as long noses to indicate someone guilty of lying, being nosy, or being proud and arrogant. Gossiper shame masks had long tongues attached.
Some masks also had a small bell attached at the top or apparatus to make a loud whistling sound when the person breathed, to announce the arrival of its wearer and increase their humiliation.
Masks exist in almost every culture, and although they might be worn in different contexts and with different goals in mind, they all have one thing in common—they allow the wearer to become someone other than his or her everyday self. For this reason, masks are often associated with ceremony, events that by their very nature are “uncommon.” The Balinese Barong and the Mende sowei exemplify the transformative and transporting effects that masks can have on both wearers and the communities of which they are a part.
The power of masks to conceal and transform the many faces of the human condition is a fascinating subject. In some cultures masks are thought to possess the power of healing. They are used in rites of passage rituals to summon death and rebirth. Masks are also used to stimulate fertility, prosperity, and ensure a bountiful harvest.
Masks have been worn by different societies for centuries. In religious rituals the individual wearing the mask often becomes the spirit being represented,or is a medium through which the spirit communicates with others.
Today masks are used as in the performing arts to entertain us by bringing storytelling and theater to life. When wearing a mask wearers may reveal him/herself as gods, heroes, spirits, demons, or tricksters while at the same time hiding their identities.
Mardi Gras has become the largest celebration in North America and mask wearing is in full colorful display. This annual event held in New Orleans for hundreds of years has its roots in ritual celebrations. Originally, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints.As the wearer was free to be whomever they wanted to be, they were permitted to associate with anyone at any class level they desired.
Funerary masks were used throughout history to guide the spirit of the deceased back to its final resting place in the body. These masks were commonly made of cloth covered with stucco or plaster, which was then painted. Silver and gold were also added for those who were held in high esteem. Funerary masks were also created to protect the deceased against evil-minded spirits.
In Egypt it was customary to bury the pharaohs with a funerary mask which was made to resemble their actual likeness. It was believed that by placing the funerary masks on the deceased pharaoh the Gods in the next life were able to recognize them.
The funerary mask discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb has become one of the most famous artifacts of ancient Egypt. When Howard Carter found the mask in 1922 it was still intact, resting on King Tut’s mummified body. The mask is 24 pounds of solid gold, inlaid lapis lazuli, carnelian, quartz, turquoise, obsidian, and colored glass.
Mask Exhibition at The Rubin Museum
“Becoming Another”, was an exhibition that presented a diverse array of masks at The Rubin Museum, in New York, NY, through February 8, 2016. The exhibition featured masks used in shamanistic practices, communal rituals, and theatrical performances.
Hello all! I’ve been thinking a great deal on masks, and how they relate to/ can be used alongside Wiccan practices. I myself have made masks regularly enough, to aid me. So, lets just get into it.
As Part of our Ritual Clothing
Ritual clothing can vary between each group or individual. Some only do ritual work in the nude, for example.
Masks are an excellent choice for ritual work, as they themselves can be handmade. Each mask will hold a certain symbolism, that can be very specific to any ritual being performed. Wearing a mask can also shift our consciousness into a far more desirable state, one that is better suited for the ritual at hand.
As Part of our Spell Work
As someone who always looking for new, more effective ways to perform Magick, I must say that masks have been extremely helpful in my craft.
For me, Magick is all about intent. The amount of concentration and intention I pour into my spell-work is important, as it determines my amount of success I have.
Masks take energy, and forethought to create. They hold so much symbolism, and power.
If I want to do a spell for good fortune/ luck in money for example, I can make a mask. I would imbue it with energies synonymous with the before-mentioned quality. This mask could become a mask of good luck, amplifying the intent of my good fortune spell during its performance.
For Protection/ Work With the Spirits
Masks can be seen as representations of our guardian spirits. In this way, wearing these masks can “link” you to them, providing you a bond and protection.
Masks can also prevent spirits from recognizing you, protecting you from supernatural dangers. (Hogwash, do they really think spirits, who have been around for thousands of years and were created already knowing more than we do, can be fooled or controlled by humans?? HOGWASH.)
Potentially, a created mask can better align you to a spirit’s sensitivities. “Masking” your undesired base personality, can help you better contact spirits whose presence was hard to catch before. Masks are a bridge between our inner “us”, and outside forces.
A lot of work done by our ancestors suggests that masks aid in the mental/physical healing of others.
I also wanted to mention that masks can be made for the express purpose of imitating a specific disease or set of diseases, as I have done below, with mask 2.
Back to the first mentioned point, we can essentially “become” or imitate a powerful force with our masks. In this way our ancestors attempted cures for illness in “men”, cattle, and crops. They also created sadness, joy, love, etc. in mask form, to evoke these certain emotions in the hearts of beholders. Essentially you can lift someone’s spirit, or potentially aid in the healing process, getting away from illness.
What do you y’all think of my thoughts? My masks? Let me know in the comments, on the wall of my profile, on the original post, or in a blog!
Masks are one of the few things on the earth that connect all of humanity throughout time. We have created ritual masks since our very beginnings in order to disguise, protect, or entertain. They have been used by cultures around the globe for performances and rites, ceremonies and festivals. Most notably, masks hide our identities, and allow us to become something we’re not.
One of the masks that will go on display. ( Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel )
More than 10,000 years ago, ancient people living in the Judean Desert and Hills abandoned their nomadic lifestyles and established permanent settlements. Around this time, art, culture, and religious belief began to flourish, reflected in part by the creation of facial masks carved out of limestone and painted with colourful pigments.
Weighing in at one or two kilograms apiece, each of the masks depicts a face with unique characteristics – some appear old, others young – but they all contain cavities for the eyes, mouths with teeth or grins, and a set of holes along the outer edge, which may have been used to attach the mask to the face with string.
One of the masks still contains remnants of pigments, which suggests that the masks were originally painted. The varied features of the masks suggest that they may have represented specific individuals. Scholars believe that the carved limestone masks were used as part of an ancestor cult , and that shamans or tribal chiefs wore the masks during a ritual masquerade honoring the deceased. They were masks to represent spirits, not living people.
One of the three Mesolithic deer skull headdresses from the Star Carr exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. ( Josh Murfitt / MAA )
Deer skulls with carved eyeholes dating to 11,000 years ago have been discovered at Star Carr Mesolithic archaeological site about five miles (8.0 km) south of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.
The Cambridge archaeologists involved at Star Carr raised the postulation that the deer headdresses “may have been items of camouflage worn while hunting.” While the visual of 30 plus hunters creeping through a woodland dressed as deer sets one’s imagination on fire, Dr. Joy told reporters that “part of the antlers were removed… One suspects the deer wouldn’t have been fooled!”
To better understand why ancient people made such elaborate sacred objects, we must adopt a different world view and consider ‘ animism.’ Imagine for a moment a reality in which every material object and phenomena has an unseen life force; where material and spiritual realms are simply different parts of ‘one thing.’In that world, free of pre-scientific reasoning, our forebears projected concepts of soul, spirit, and sentience onto fern and fauna, light and shadows, thunder, wind, rain and sunshine.
Mosaic, shown Gargoyles in form of Theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy. Roman artwork, 2nd century AD. ( Public Domain )
While the extent to which early tragedy borrowed from Dionysus’ traditions remains unclear, the basics are evident: performers (who danced as much as they acted) donned masks and costumes and followed a mythological script that relied heavily on the dichotomy between gods and men.
The masks were especially important in the practice of performance—maybe more-so than in the Dionysian rituals—as they were a way to ensure with absolute certainty that the actors could take on any guise necessary. Whether this guise was human, god, demi-god, or monster, it was valuable to the tale being told, and thus masks were central to the theatrics of all performances.
Many masks survive, as well as literary descriptions of the masks and artistic recreations in frescoes and vase paintings . One can see the evidence of the importance of masks at almost any surviving theater—Greek or Roman (as the Romans borrowed heavily from Greek drama before devising their own). Statues depicting the grotesquely laughing, crying, or raging masks stare down at innocent viewers, their lips largely engorged and eyes so rounded and saucer-like, one would think the mask itself had a mind of its own.
This rare ritual mask fuses together the exotic beauty of Luba with the hypnotic power of Songye art.
Tribal African masks are highly sought after by artifact collectors and museums all over the western world, where they are generally appreciated only for their aesthetic qualities. To tribal insiders however, they are multi-interpretational matrixes of ancient ancestral knowledge, holding the secrets of creation and the otherworldly origins of mankind.
Masks are known as Kifwebe in both the Luba and Songye languages. Non-initiates cannot even begin to grasp the layers of significance given to these masks which allude to Congo cosmology and the perceived cycles of planets, animal breeding patterns, and mythical heroes.
Unlike modern masks, which are designed to frighten and amuse people, African ritual masks formerly served as agents of social control, enforcing allegiance to the rulers. Believed to be imbued with magical supernatural powers, even today, women and children are forbidden to see them outside rituals. (and Americans bring them into their homes and display them proudly, wondering why the world is suddenly behaving as if DEMON POSSESSED! Ignorance is the downfall of American Sophisticates!)
The craft skills required to design and then create these masks was inherited and remains a fiercely guarded secret within family groups. Firstly, the choosing of raw material was ritualized and its preparation required knowledge of soaking and drying wood so that expansion and contraction all happened before the creation of the mask.
Light colored masks with striations and a black band running up the nose represent females, whereas those representing males are multicolored, yet predominantly red, and the striations are generally bolder with larger crests. The largest are called kya noshi , which are the most powerful and feared masks only worn by elders. The crest-masks with higher and more prominent crests – are said to evoke a mountain and also represent the World Tree.
A bronze mask of Sanxingdui. ( Asian Civilisations Museum )
Amid the once-tranquil village of Sanxingdui, in a quiet part of Sichuan province in China, a remarkable discovery took place which immediately attracted international attention and has since rewritten the history of Chinese civilization.
By far the most striking findings were dozens of large bronze masks and heads represented with angular human features, exaggerated almond-shaped eyes, straight noses, square faces, and huge ears, features which don’t reflect those of Asian people.
The artifacts were radiocarbon dated to the 12th-11th centuries BC. They had been created using remarkably advanced bronze casting technology, which was acquired by adding lead to a combination of copper and tin, creating a stronger substance that could create substantially larger and heavier objects.
Some of the masks were enormous in size and the three largest masks have the most supernatural features of all the Sanxingdui artifacts, with animal-like ears, monstrously protruding pupils, or an additional ornate trunk.
The oldest known Japanese mask was discovered at the Daifuku archaeological site in Japan. The fragment consists of the left side of what would have been a whole mask made of Japanese umbrella pine. It is 23 cm (9.05 inches) long and 7 cm (2.76 inches) wide and contains an oval hole for the eye and a smaller hole which would have been for a string to keep the mask on the face. There are no artificial patterns or colors on its surface.
Japanese masks are part of a very old and highly sophisticated and stylized theatrical tradition. Although the roots are in prehistoric myths and cultsthey have developed into refined art forms. The oldest masks are the Gigaku, which were used for an ancient dance drama.
There are 14 different Gigaku masks, which were typically made out of materials such as clay, dry lacquer, cloth, paper, and wood. All these masks are different because they cover the whole face as well as the ears. Hair was sometimes put on the masks for decoration with black outlines for facial features. Some masks were lion heads, bird- beaked creatures, demons, and super humans. A lot of the Gigaku masks were influenced India, Indonesia, and China.
Some experts compare the masks to the ones worn by fangxiangshi (magicians)mentioned in Zhouli, an ancient Chinese text describing the rites of the Zhou dynasty (12th century BC-256 BC). Exorcism ritualsinvolving fangxiangshi, in which a mask was worn on the face and a pike and a shield were held in the hands, are said to be an origin of the demon-chasing rituals that continue to this day in Japan.
The tribal mask is revered as a sacred ritual artifact by the Native American Hopi tribe in Arizona. These ritual masks are worn by dancers during religious ceremonies and are considered living beings.When they are not used, they are stored behind muslin screens so they can ‘breathe’ and are ritually ‘fed’ corn pollen. They are considered so sacred, in fact, that a US charity spent $530,000 to rescue 24 Hopi artifacts from an auction in Paris, in order to return them to their rightful owners.
“These are not trophies to have on one’s mantel, they are truly sacred works for the Native Americans. They do not belong in auction houses or private collections,” said Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, director of the Los Angeles-based foundation that funds non-profit organisations around the world, “It gives me immense satisfaction to know that they will be returned home to their rightful owners, the Native Americans.”
Top Image: One of the three Mesolithic deer skull headdresses from the Star Carr exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Ritual masks and headdresses served many different purposes. Source: Josh Murfitt / MAA
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
There’s a famous scene in the movie Fight Club where Tyler Durden is on an airplane thumbing through one of those safety manuals in emergency exit rows.
“An exit door procedure at 30,000 feet,” says Durden (Brad Pitt). “The illusion of safety.”
It’s a memorable scene because it touches on the strange things humans do to make ourselves feel secure in frightening situations. Which brings me to America’s latest fad: wearing masks in public.
Polls show that more than half of Americans are now choosing to wear masks when they go out, presumably to prevent catching or spreading the COVID-19 virus. What one chooses to wear is up to them, of course, but the trend is a bit surprising considering government officials spent months telling Americans not to wear protective face coverings.
“We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseasessaid on January 31. “And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.”
Throughout February and into March, similar statements were made by numerous other top government officials and agencies.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said “the average American does not need a N95 mask. These are really more for health care providers.”He was echoed by Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that there “is no role for these masks in the community.”In February, the US Surgeon General chimed in on Twitter, “STOP BUYING MASKS.”
Despite these warnings, the popularity of masks grew. “Maskies”—selfies of people wearing masks—are the latest trend on Instagram, Fast Companyreports. They’ve become a symboland form of expression, a way to show social solidarity and empowerment.
“When everyone is wearing masks, I feel respected,” one woman recently told National Geographic. “The message is: I’m protecting you, you’re protecting me, I can feel safe.”
Feel safe. That’s the key word.Whether masks actually prevent the spread of respiratory infection remains a subject of debate.
There’s a reason public officials made the statements above. An abundance of research shows masks offer little or no protection against infection from respiratory viruses, and some masks can actuallyincrease one’s risk of infection.
A 2009 randomized clinical trial found that surgical masks offered no protection at all. A 2015 study concluded rates of infection were especially high in cloth masks, finding particle penetration in nearly 97 percent of them. A 2016 paper that analyzed six clinical studies found that N95 respirator masks fared no better than medical masks in preventing respiratory infection.*
As recently as April 7, a paper analyzing data from 15 randomized trials concluded that “compared to no masks there was no reduction of influenza-like illness cases for influenza for masks in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”Despite the lack of hard empirical evidence, however, the study recommended the use of masks based on “observational evidence from the previous SARS epidemic.” [Editor’s Note: The authors also found that most clinical trials had “poor design,” thus there was insufficient evidence to provide recommendations.]
Perhaps similar reasoning guided the CDC’s about-face in April when it issued guidance recommending the use of cloth face coverings for healthy individuals (though the World Health Organization still advises againstthem).
Recommended is the key word here. We’re now in May, a mere two months after federal authorities were imploring Americans to not wear or buy masks, and many people are finding themselves forced to wear masks to do their shopping or even go for a walk.
This month the megastore Costco begandemandingthat customers wear masks to do their shopping. As a private company, Costco has such a right. But many statesin mid April began taking things further, demanding that citizens wear masks to leave their homes. The latest state to join the bandwagon is Massachusetts. The new order requires anyone over the age of two to wear a mask or face covering in public places, even if they are outdoors.
In the span of just two months,we’ve gone from urging people to not buy or wear masks (and warning face coverings could increase the risk of infection) to threatening to fine and jail those who don’t wear them. Americans, understandably, are confused. And it’s not helping.
This week in Michigan, a Family Dollar security guard was killed after refusing to allow a woman’s daughter into the store because she wasn’t wearing a mask. The guard was enforcing an executive order Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two weeks earlier.
While only those people directly involved in the guard’s death are responsible, such confrontations could be avoided if state governors exercised a little humility and acknowledged that CDC recommendations are not gospel and the department’s conclusions (clearly) are not infallible.
Good ideas generally don’t require force.And the truth is,based on an abundance of medical research and the federal government’s own statements and reports, it’s unclear how effective masks are as a preventive measure against COVID-19 transmission.
Public health aside, there’s no disputing the psychological impact masks have.
“The coronavirus is coming, and we feel rather helpless,” Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CNN in March. “By getting masks and wearing them, we move the locus of control somewhat to ourselves.”
In a sense, the mask craze is largely about managing our fears.As my colleague Sean Malone recently observed, when people are afraid they’re much more willing to accept anything they believe might make them a little safer. Even really bad policies and ideas.
The illusionof safety. It’s a powerful thing. For both humans and governments, it would seem.
*CORRECTION: This article initially inadvertently linked to a 2011 study that found for medical workers, N95 respirators offered much higher protection than medical masks. We regret the error.
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