Emergency Order, Mask Use Questioned

Oct. 23, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

Why is Virginia still under a state of emergency?

It is the state of emergency in Virginia that allows Governor Northam to mandate masks, social distancing, and crowd limits. But Virginia isn’t sick, SARS-COV2 isn’t as deadly as we feared and there is little evidence that masks are effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The rolling seven-day average number of deaths related to SARS-COV2 in Virginia has been less than 10 deaths per day since Sept. 26, and an average of only five deaths per day since Oct. 11.

Although we are seeing a lot of positive tests nationwide, those who are affected and are less than 70-years-old have a better-than-99 percent survival rate due to improved therapeutics and treatment protocols.

Most importantly, a survey conducted by over a dozen medical institutions for the CDC and published in Sept. 11’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Fisher, et. al. 2020) showed 85 percent of those who contracted COVID-19 during July among the study group either “always” or “often” wore face coverings within the 14 days before they were infected. More than 70 percent of those outpatient individuals who tested positive reported always wearing masks. Just 3.9 percent reported never wearing a mask.

With daily deaths so low, such a high survival rate among those affected by SARS-COV2 and masks apparently having little effect, why are we still under a state of emergency and a statewide mask mandate?

If you have questions about the State of Emergency, please call Governor Northam and ask him for clarification. I have tried a number of times to make contact with his office and have had no success - (804) 786-2211.

BECKY ALMY Kerrs Creek

Editor’s note: According to a “fact check” by USA Today following the release of the Sept. 11 report mentioned in this letter, that report is open to misinterpretation.

Taking the mask off to eat in a public setting had a lot to do with contraction of the virus, according to the study, the USA Today noted. The Centers for Disease Control tweeted about the study that “People w/ and w/o #COVID19 had high levels of mask use in public. Even for those who always wear a mask, there are activities where masks can’t be worn, like eating or drinking. People w/ COVID-19 were more likely to have eaten in a restaurant.”

The report, the USA Today writer explained, analyzed 314 symptomatic adults who received SARS-CoV-2 test results during July. Of those, 154 tested positive, which were referred to as “case patients.” Another 160 tested negative, referred to as “control patients.”

While 70.6 percent of the case patients self-reported always wearing a mask, a higher percentage of the “control patients” who did not contract COVID-19 self-reported always wearing a mask, “which suggests that their mask-wearing may have helped stave off the virus.”

The USA Today story also noted that just 11 patients in the entire study reported that they never wore masks. “So the percentage of individuals who tested positive and never wore masks was guaranteed to be low.”

The CDC continues to recommend wearing masks as a way of preventing the spread of the virus from those with COVID-19 to others. CDC director Robert Redfield said last month that the U.S. would be able to get the coronavirus outbreak under control if people universally wore masks and socially distanced for 12 weeks.

Researchers from the University of Washington’s School of Medicine recently predicted that current state strategies could lead to over 500,000 deaths nationwide by Feb. 28, but that nearly 130,000 lives could be saved if at least 95 percent of the public wore masks.

The News-Gazette

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