President Joe Biden continues to talk about how much his administration “follows the science.” Yet in spite of the science, the media panic over the delta variant is driving him back into the arms of clearly unnecessary mask mandates.
The rejection of science and rationality is most prominent in the administration’s stance on schools. Biden said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is going to advise that children under the age of 12 wear masks during school. This is compounded by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s support for mask mandates for children over the age of 2, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying it’s “greatly concerning” that Florida is not going to require children to wear masks in schools.
Of course, Florida is once again correct, and Biden’s administration is wrong. Out of roughly 73 million children in the U.S., 335 have died from the virus. Between 0%-0.03% of child virus cases result in death. The CDC estimated that more nearly twice as many children died of the flu during the 2017-18 flu season than have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. For some perspective, the 2009 H1N1 flu, known as the “swine flu,” had a higher death rate among children than COVID-19 does.
The risk of COVID-19 to children is incredibly low. There is no scientific justification to force them to wear masks for in-person schooling for seven hours a day, five days a week.
There is also no scientific justification to force people who are fully vaccinated to wear masks. Yet, according to the Washington Post, it appears the White House is considering advising people to wear masks indoors or in public places if there is a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Meanwhile, the CDC is considering an “update” to its masking guidance.
We can already see what that update might look like. Los Angeles County has reinstated its mask mandate for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. New Orleans has done the same, and Las Vegas has imposed a variation of a mask mandate that only applies to employees working in public spaces. Philadelphia is now “strongly recommending” that vaccinated people wear masks indoors, as is Austin, Texas.
As my colleague Kaylee McGhee White noted, vaccinated people have nothing to worry about, even from the more contagious delta variant. Breakthrough infections are extremely rare among those who have been vaccinated, and even if it occurs, the chances of hospitalization or death are dramatically reduced thanks to the vaccine.
Yes, the number of coronavirus cases has risen. But, while the number of new cases has spiked since mid-June, this is not the deadly disease it once was. The number of deaths has declined. Nearly 70% of adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. Many additional people — we don’t know for sure how many — are protected by natural immunity, from having previously contracted the virus and recovered. Natural immunity is often forgotten in this context, but research shows that, so far, it is effective and durable.
If a federal response to the rise in cases (not deaths) is even necessary, focusing on children and vaccinated adults is pointless. Both groups are at extraordinarily low risk, and the notion that “science” is guiding these decisions is absurd.