Masks

Masks

By

Leonard Zwelling

I am happy to have you correct me, but I thought that the latest data demonstrated that the only masks that really make a difference in stopping the spread of Covid or protecting the uninfected wearer are N95 masks. The vast majority of the masks that I saw on the airplanes to and from Hawai’i were not N95 masks. So, what the heck are we really doing? Is anyone really protecting themselves or anyone else by wearing a non-N95 mask?

Now, a Florida judge struck down the federal (CDC) mask order on public transportation. I really don’t know whether or not this is a good idea, but I am a little concerned that the immunocompromised and the unvaccinated young are being placed at higher risk if the mask mandate is lifted—IF the masks that most people use really work at all. I know the ones below the nose don’t. I know the cloth ones don’t. I know the flimsy ones that do not seal around the face don’t.

In response to the order from the Florida judge, the Department of Justice is looking to reverse the judge’s decision, not so much because anything is likely to change on the airlines, but because it sets an awful precedent should a new pandemic arise and the CDC, responsible for America’s public health, cannot institute requisite mandates for safety like masking (with ones that actually work this time).

What’s the real problem?

The real problem is that the government is not trusted because it constantly changes the information it broadcasts and people require specific and well-founded instructions on how to behave during such a pandemic. I understand science changes and thus the recommendations of government officials might change, but reality says that people need to know what to do and why and the information needs to be clear, science-based, and not politically-influenced.

This latest case may well wind up in front of the Supreme Court because it goes directly to what powers the federal government has, specifically the Executive Branch. I am assuming that the Executive Branch of the government that includes the CDC derives its power from the Constitution, but exactly what can the Executive Branch do? The powers of Congress are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. But what are the exact powers of the President besides making appointments, making war, and offering pardons? Not so clear to my reading of the Constitution. Much of the power of the Executive Branch seems to derive from precedent and that precedent was just challenged by the Florida judge. The Executive Branch is unhappy with that ruling and now will protest it. This may wind up on the docket of the Supreme Court.

Of course, Congress could grant the CDC the power under Article 1, Section 8, clause 3 (regulation of interstate commerce) or clause 18 (“To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers”), but my guess is that the CDC thinks it already has that power. But this article is not so sure:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2769440

Meanwhile, it is probably worth the time of the Congress to determine who is in charge of pandemic response in the United States, From where that entity derives its Constitutional authority, what its true powers are, and who the final arbiter of any order deriving from that entity might be. Now is the time to sort all of this out. I have not the slightest belief that this will occur, but you have to admit, it’s a good idea.

Probably, as with ObamaCare, abortion, gay marriage and forcing people to make wedding cakes, this will probably be one for the Supreme Court, because Congress won’t do its job. So, do we really have a representative democracy or an oligarchy consisting of five men and four women?

 

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2 thoughts on “Masks”

  1. The real problem may be one of collective responsibility. Those who have COVID symptoms need to avoid the vulnerable, but perhaps they are not. Some Americans seem so self-centered on their own convenience with little or no genuine concern for others. It’s been an eroding attitude for years.
    What impresses me about the Ukrainians is their collective responsibility for one another. We have a lot to learn by observing their behavior.

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