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Why Face Masks Did Not Stop Spread of COVID-19 in Maine

By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, February 24, 2021


    The recent plunge in new COVID-19 “positive” cases and hospitalizations in Maine to pre-November, 2020 levels has face mask advocates claiming this proves the efficacy of the face mask mandate Maine is currently suffering under.  However, a closer inspection of the data reveals what the scientific reports had already shown prior to the pandemic - that disposable surgical and cloth face masks have little to no effect on respiratory viral transmission in a community setting; if in fact SARS CoV-2 is a virus to begin with (more on that at the end of this article).

   As “positive” cases began to rise in November, Maine’s Democrat governor, Janet “Big Sister” Mills instituted another executive order mandating face masks in public, but still allowed for medical exemptions.  At that time, there was already 99 percent compliance anyway, so the EO didn’t really change much.  Over the next month, “positive” cases still continued to rise at an alarming rate - despite nearly everyone wearing face masks in public.  So, on December 11, Big Sister issued a new executive order mandating everyone wear face masks in public, with no exceptions for medical waivers, and reinforced it with fines and penalties for non-compliance.  Yet, the “positive” cases of COVID-19 continued to rise unabated...some might say the rate of cases increased.

   On December 11, the day Big Sister’s enhanced EO went into effect, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported on their COVID-19 web page that there were a cumulative total for the pandemic of 15,620 “positive” COVID-19 cases in Maine and a current total of 182 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on that day.  Fourteen days later - the generally accepted symptom and infection period of the virus - those cases had risen to 23,499 - or an average of 562 “positive” cases per day; COVID hospitalizations had dropped slightly to 177.  If the public face mask mandate was going to be shown to be effective, from this point on the “positive” cases of COVID-19 should have started to drop.  But, they didn’t.

   For the first fourteen days of the enhanced mask mandate, there were between 400 to 700 new “positive” cases per day in Maine.  On January 11 - exactly one month after the mask mandate went into effect, Maine experienced its peak of 829 new positive cases in one day and hovered around that 800 mark for a couple more days afterward.  COVID-19 hospitalizations had increased to 203 on January 11.  If the mask mandate was going to be shown to be effective, a month into it the daily cases and hospitalizations should have been reduced, not increased.  It was as if the virus wasn’t even aware a governor was trying to micromanage it from Augusta.  Or, perhaps the numbers were being deliberately juggled to induce a state of panic, fear and hysteria in the general public.

   Presumably, Big Sister Mills’ decision to impose excessive mask mandates on Mainers was based upon medical studies that showed a reduction in respiratory viral spread.  These medical studies, usually Randomized Control Trials (RCT) are conducted either in a health care setting, laboratory or other controlled situations that are designed to create the most accurate and objective data possible. 

    However, the results of these reports done in controlled settings cannot be duplicated in the uncontrolled settings of the general public where all face mask mandates are actually carried out in.  For example, the average person in the general public is not a trained medical professional who has learned the proper way to put on, take off, change out or dispose of a used face mask.  Most surgical masks and cloth face masks must be changed out every hour to prevent contamination from bacterial build-up.  Also, the most effective of all face masks - the N95 respirator - was hardly used at all by the general public who opted for the cheaper, disposable surgical and cloth masks.

   While the cheaper, disposable surgical and cloth face masks had less ability to filter out viral particles, their effectiveness was further reduced when a person reused the same mask over and over again throughout the day (or week!).  What may have started out as a clean mask ended up halfway through the day contaminated by viral particles and bacteria on both sides, rendering it completely ineffective.


"...the general public was pulling their used mask down under their chin, or putting it on the dirty dashboard of their car, or stuffing it in their pocket or purse, or stowing it in the center console of their car, or the side door pocket.  These lackadaisical storage procedures for their masks ensured  that both sides would become contaminated. "


   The storage of the masks used by the general public was hideous.  While medical workers know they have to remove a used mask and immediately throw it away, and put on a clean, new mask for the next use, the general public was pulling their used mask down under their chin, or putting it on the dirty dashboard of their car, or stuffing it in their pocket or purse, or stowing it in the center console of their car, or the side door pocket.  These lackadaisical storage procedures for their masks ensured  that both sides would become contaminated.  If there were COVID-19 viral particles floating around in the air while they wore the mask in the grocery store, as soon as they took it off and shoved it in their purse or pocket, the particles would easily be transferred to the inside of the mask where they would be breathed in the next time that dirty, contaminated mask was put on.

   While people may have complied with the spirit of the face mask mandate and were thus rewarded with social acceptance of their virtue signaling by the Mask Karens of society, and allowed to enter grocery stores and other public establishments; they were not complying with the intent - that is, to use masks in a way that actually reduced the transmission of respiratory viruses.

   But, to their defense, even if the public had been trained to use face masks properly, and were taught to discard a mask and replace it with a new one every time the old mask was taken off (which would have been unenforceable, anyway) disposable surgical and cloth masks have been shown for years to be ineffective at reducing respiratory viral transmission. 


Face Mask Studies

    For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published a report in their May, 2020 publication, Emerging Infectious Diseases that showed there is little evidence for face mask use or even hand washing and surface cleaning in prevention of viral transmission of influenza or, by extension, the now infamous COVID-19 coronavirus.1  The report looked at all of the available studies from 1946 through 2018, focusing on peer reviewed Randomized Control Trials (RCTs).  After reviewing the studies, the report authors stated, “Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect against accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids.  There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.  Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

   While the studies cited looked at influenza viruses, the COVID-19 coronavirus has been found to be much more infectious than influenza so face masks would even be less likely to stop its transmission.

   The CDC report summarized face mask effectiveness by stating, “In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.”

  A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April, 2020, led by researchers in South Korea, found cloth face masks to be ineffective at stopping the spread of viruses.  According to a summary at, “Neither mask meaningfully decreased the viral load coughed onto Petri dishes.  The study also returned the odd result that most swabs from the outside of patient masks were positive for coronavirus and most from the inside were negative...The bottom line, experts say, is that masks might help keep people with COVID-19 from unknowingly passing along the virus.  But, the evidence for the efficacy of surgical or homemade masks is limited, and masks aren’t the most important protection against the coronavirus.”2

    In an April, 2015 study - conducted five years before the political pressure to conform to face mask usage society-wide - researchers found similar results.

   The peer-reviewed report, entitled “A Cluster Randomized Trial of Cloth Masks Compared with Medical Masks in Healthcare Workers” was published in the medical journal, BMJ Open3.

   According to the authors of the report, “The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI) statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm compared with the medical mask arm...An analysis by mask use showed ILI and laboratory confirmed virus were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group.  Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

   A report published in May, 2020, entitled, “Respiratory Virus Shedding in Exhaled Breath and Efficacy of Face Masks” in the journal Nature Medicine4 examined the shedding of virus particles while breathing.

   The report authors said of face masks, “Most of the existing evidence on the filtering efficacy of face masks and respirators comes from in vitro experiments with non-biological particles which may not be generizable to infectious respiratory virus droplets.  There is little information on the efficacy of face masks  in filtering respiratory viruses and reducing viral release from an individual with respiratory infections, and most research has focused on influenza.”

   The researchers also found that it was particularly difficult to capture shed virus particles from exhaling either droplets or aerosols in non-mask wearers.  “Among the samples collected without a face mask, we found that the majority of participants with influenza virus and coronavirus infection did not shed detectable virus in respiratory droplets or aerosols...For those who did shed virus in respiratory droplets and aerosols, viral load in both tended to be low.”

     While face mask wearing in public in the U.S. has been elevated to a charismatic religious faith, two doctors at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) came under fire last year for pointing out the scientific fact that disposable surgical face masks and cloth face masks do not stop the spread of viruses, nor were they ever intended or designed to do so.

   The commentary was published on the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) website.  It is entitled COMMENTARY:  Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data.5  The commentary was written by Dr. Lisa Brosseau ScD,  a national expert on respiratory protection and infectious diseases and professor (retired) at UIC and Dr. Margaret Sietsema, PhD, an expert on respiratory protection and an assistant professor at UIC. 

      The doctors’ commentary notes that data is lacking to recommend broad mask use.  “We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because there is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”

   “Sweeping mask recommendations - as many have proposed - will not reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission, as evidenced by the widespread practice of wearing masks in Hubei province, China before and during its mass COVID-19 transmission experience earlier this year.  Our review of relevant studies indicates that cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or PPE.”

   A face mask study conducted by the U.S. CDC6 and published last Fall showed that 85 percent of Case-Patients with a positive PCR test for SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, and showing symptoms, were in people who reported wearing a cloth face covering or mask either “often” or “always” 14 days before the illness onset.

      And finally, researchers in Denmark published a new study7 on the use of surgical face masks in a community setting which found there was very little difference in infection rates of COVID-19 between the group that always wore masks in public and the group that never wore masks in public.

   They recruited around 6,000 adults and divided them evenly into a mask group and a no mask group.

     During the trial, conducted between April 3 - June 2, 2020, test subjects in both groups were tested for anti-bodies to COVID-19.  It was found that in the mask group, 1.8% became infected with COVID-19 even though they wore a surgical mask all the time in public while 2.1% of those who did not wear face masks caught COVID-19.   The authors concluded, “a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, incident SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with no mask recommendation.”

   A total of 52 masked and 39 non-masked participants reported COVID-19 in their household.  Of these,  2 participants in the face mask group and 1 in the no face mask group developed SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggesting that the source of most observed infections was outside the home.

   Even with this voluminous amount of evidence showing the ineffectiveness of face masks in a community, general public setting - coupled with the evidence from Maine and other states that corroborates the science by showing no reduction in viral transmission of COVID-19 during face mask mandates - the public has been steadfastly convinced/misled by the establishment corporate media and left-wing governors that face masks do reduce respiratory viral transmission even though they are surrounded by mountains of evidence which indicates they do no such thing.


Possible Reasons for “Positive” Cases and Their Decline

   Meanwhile, the daily “positive” COVID-19 cases in Maine began a precipitous decline to less than 300 per day a week after the Biden inauguration in D.C., then to less than 200 per day a week later. This reduction in cases is happening across the U.S. and could simply be part of the virus’ natural infection cycle; or it could be politically motivated to make Biden look good; or it could be used to claim the new COVID-19 vaccines are “effective” even though not enough have been dispensed yet to make a difference; or, intriguingly, it could be related to “terrain theory” where there is no virus at all, but the body creates compounds internally in response to injury to an organ or system that can key a PCR test positive and create symptoms similar to viral infections then be mistaken as viral in nature when there is no virus at all (more on that in an upcoming FFJ).

    What is certain is the politicization of the COVID-19 virus will ensure that data will continue to be muddled and politicians will continue to withhold data and skew science in order to either save face with the public, or justify their continued excessive and reckless mandating of ridiculous health measures to control a disease whose persona has been crafted and stage managed by the media for their political and economic gain, then amplified by social media to never before seen levels of hysteria.