UnMasking Kids is Right
Two weeks ago, during a press conference, New York Governor Kathy Hochul was asked “whether the state has a particular number [for removing the statewide mask mandate]–whether that be test positivity rates or hospitalization rates,” or whether the state was “playing it by ear.” Hochul insisted it was not the latter, that the state would “be driven by data,” but then failed to mention–as so many of the regular (outspoken) cast Covid fearmongers do–the specifics of that data.
Hochul didn’t stop there, however; she went on to note that her daughter “had a meltdown about having to put sneakers on to go to kindergarten. She got used to wearing sneakers in school. They [children] adapt better than adults do.” What we are to glean from this bit of wisdom is, I suppose, that forcing masks on children as young as two, for eight-plus hours a day is no different than making them wear shoes. After all, they “get used to it.” They adapt.
Hochul’s flippant attitude towards children, her insistence on upselling their resilience (whatever that means), while patently refusing to even consider that we might be irreparably damaging an entire generation in the name of “safety,” all exemplify precisely what has been so wrong with much of the left’s attitude towards children during the last two years.
The Democrats are asking the younger generation to sacrifice their health for the older generation. Children are the future of America and for the past two years, older Americans stubbornly demanded that younger generations give up their health, their freedoms, their childhoods, and their bodily autonomy, because of a virus that poses effectively zero risk to young folks.
Kids are resilient, but almost nobody–healthy, full-grown adults included–is resilient when there’s no end in sight when there’s no off-ramp. So many on the left, it appears, don’t want an off-ramp. Indeed, there seems to be a veritable obsession–predominantly displayed in blue areas of the country–with masking every child, in every school–regardless of age, risk, the practicality of use and wear, potential developmental/health risks, and long term disruption to learning.
No other Western nation has such strident measures when it comes to masking children. The WHO and UNICEF do not recommend masking children under five years old, a decision “based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.” And even children ages six to eleven should be masked only once a variety of factors–including “whether there is widespread transmission in the area” and “the ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask”– have been taken into consideration.
So with the WHO and the CDC in such direct opposition, and with America–and the world at large–now entering year three of the pandemic, shouldn’t parents–and indeed, all Americans–have the right to make decisions for themselves and their children? After all, it’s not as if there is an abundance of scientific data in favor of masking in schools.
In July of last year, Dr. Vinay Prasad pointed out the alarming dearth of data regarding masking kids: “Here is the real answer to the question of whether it’s worth it to mask kids: No one has any clue. During the last year and a half, the scientific community has failed to answer these questions.
We have no idea if masks work for 2-year-olds and above, 5 and above, 12 and above. No idea if they only work for some period of time. No idea if this is linked to community rates. No idea if the concerns over language loss offset the gains in reduced viral transmission, and if so, for what ages[…] I view the failure to answer this question as one of the greatest failures of the pandemic.” Over six months later, there is still no conclusive evidence that the potential benefits of masking children as young as two outweigh the potential risks.
The reality is that not everyone is at equal risk for negative outcomes from Covid. Is that “fair”? No. But at the risk of sounding patronizing: much of life isn’t (and isn’t that the conversation every parent must sooner or later have with his child?). Let’s stop behaving as if it’s Spring of 2020. N95s are no longer in short supply.
Gone are the days of “my mask protects you; your mask protects me.” At this point, anyone who is insisting that another individual–let alone a child as young as two–be masked is willfully ignoring the fact that we now have the tools to protect ourselves if we so choose. We no longer need to impose those tools on others–especially when it’s impossible for us to know the long-term costs to our younger generations.
The SuperBowl is coming to LA–a county that has been in a continuous indoor mask mandate since March of 2020, save for a brief respite in July of last year. Students at LAUSD have been under a mask mandate for the same amount of time, and just last week, the district updated their guidance to prohibit cloth masks, which the CDC recently deemed not as effective as surgical masks or respirators (astonishing that it took almost two years).
This past Sunday, a maskless Governor Gavin Newsom attended the NFC championship game at the same stadium where the SuperBowl will be held, and where fans as young as two will be required to mask (and those ages five and up will be required to show proof of vaccination or negative test, and mask up).
If the Super Bowl can happen, we’re no longer in the throes of a deadly pandemic (we haven’t been for quite some time). If the governor can party maskless with celebrities, there is no longer a state of emergency. The mask mandates need to go. Republicans need to bring the heat. Mask mandates in schools (and elsewhere) should be a top-of-the-ballot, dealbreaker issue in the midterms and beyond. In February 2022, almost two years into this mess with no end in sight. It is not acceptable to experiment on our kids in the name of protecting the (alleged) adults in the room.