How was the mask compliance at July 4 gatherings?

My Facebook feed has been dominated for about two months by friends who have faith in the perfectibility of human beings. Americans are on the cusp of wearing masks consistently and correctly, but need a slight push in the form of additional education regarding (a) the seriousness of coronavirus, (b) the deadliness of Covid-19 to people of all ages, (c) the discomfort of being intubated (see meme below), (d) the efficacy of masks in stopping coronaplague in its tracks.

Image may contain: text that says 'If you hate wearing a mask, you're really not going to like the ventilator.'

The same people previously asserted that nearly half of Americans were dumb as bricks, gulled by a demagogue into voting against their own interests.

Implicitly, therefore, the idea is that stupid people, provided with a few Facebook updates regarding the merits of masks, will make a science-informed decision to mask up, wash hands after every time that they touch their homemade mask (a.k.a. “face rag”), and change masks or clean masks frequently.

Can we test this assumption by observing the behavior of people who are already reasonably well-informed regarding the oxymoron of “medical science”? Late last month, for example, I attended a birthday party for an MD/PhD. It was pitched via email as a “small and socially distanced” backyard event. Most of the guests were also MD/PhDs, age 50-65. Everyone showed up wearing a mask and settled in 6’ apart. The menu: potato chips, cupcakes, s’mores, scotch, and cigars. After 30 minutes, the gathering had grown and people were more like 3’ apart, nearly all unmasked on an uncharacteristically windless evening.

Readers: What have you observed in backyard BBQs and similar July 4-style events?

(Also, Happy Treason Day to friends and readers in the U.K.!)


30 thoughts on “How was the mask compliance at July 4 gatherings?

  1. I don’t know about you Phil but like a good American I will celebrate this and any future 4th by cowering in the corner until Anthony Fauci says i can emerge. It is the American way — cower until government officials tell you what to do while hoodlums loot and rampage. To mix it up a little, I will probably line up my teddy bears, take down the kid’s sports trophies, you know the ones everyone gets for showing up, and while on my knees sing John Lennon’s Imagine. We like to think we are heirs to the frontier, immigrants who struggled to get here, real heroes who fought and died in wars to protect our liberty — to cower in the corner till Uncle gives us the OK to get out.

    • If you pull off a condom in the middle of having sex, does that prove you don’t believe condoms don’t work?

      Follow-up: if you get your partner pregnant after doing that, does that prove that condoms don’t work?

    • False analogy is not an argument. Condoms work. Regilar masks have been shown to increase infections in clinical setting when worn all time by trained medical personnel. (They are reducing infections when worn only during situations which warrant them as judged by the users). The reasons for that are well understood by anyone other than professional bullshit artists aka “experts”.

    • @Ryan:

      “Follow-up: if you get your partner pregnant after doing that, does that prove that condoms don’t work?”

      If we impose lots of involuntary transactions by regulation, and the businesses fail as a result of these things they wouldn’t do voluntarily, does it prove capitalism doesn’t work?

  2. Not too surprising about the party, given alcohol was being consumed.

    “Dr. Bitton notes that when a group gets larger, even outdoors, it can affect our overall spatial awareness, including proprioception — which is knowing where our body is in space without relying on visual cues. Add in alcohol, and our ability to keep our distance falls short.

    “We also know that alcohol or other drugs and medications can significantly alter all senses, with a particularly large effect on proprioception,” Dr. Bitton said.

    Dr. Osterholm agreed that people should be aware of the effect alcohol can have on efforts to keep a physical distance.

    “One of the problems that happens with parties or events like this if alcohol is involved, even the most well-meaning individual who is trying to stay apart a certain number of feet, it’s an unnatural act,” he said. “People do come together. That’s just human nature.” “

    • Dr. Osterholm is talking out of hiz back orifice. All his theorising isn’t even remotely science.

  3. If it hadn’t been for the Treason, you could have had a Governor-General — Prince Andrew, even — with a Prime Minister who’d still be a US citizen if he could have afforded US taxes as well as ours. Rebellion against the Crown can be overlooked, but by precedent Washington and his cronie^H^H^H^H^H^Hfellow Founding Fathers would have to be dug up and “executed”.

    Regarding intubation, it’s not the discomfort but the danger and inefficacy that should worry one. Unsurprisingly, treatments that actually counter viral infection appear to have better results.

  4. > I attended a birthday party for an MD/PhD.

    Sounds like a latter-day Biogen conference without the boring speeches, and more scotch! Everyone knew the science going in, and as soon as they all showed up wearing a mask, the established “psycho-logical” safety threshold and peer-group mutual approval was validated. Then after some scotch & s’mores reinforcement, everyone was convinced they were safe.

    I could tell you what I’ve observed thus far today, but it’s classified – as in: “I classify people’s behavior as being completely and unpredictably nuts.” I’ve seen some people putting their masks back on today after sitting, talking and eating right next to others at a table for more than 20 minutes without them. Then five minutes later they take them off again. Without washing their hands, either. I don’t know what the logic is, or if there is any. They must have some idea that the virus comes out in bursts, at defined intervals or something. They can’t sustain the protocol in a relaxed social setting. It’s funny because the kids can see that! They know the adults can’t hack it!

    People in social groups frequently exhibit behaviors that contradict or deviate from the stated opinions and values of all the individuals comprising them. That’s why leadership is so difficult. Sometimes, the smarter the group on the average, the more difficult it is, particularly when alcohol and other drugs are involved. If the whole idea is to let your hair down, how do you keep your mask up? How do you nudge other people who are your peers — you know they’re all smart people — without sounding like a killjoy tool?

    I don’t blame them, though. People are tired this thing. They want to enjoy their friends and live their lives. We’ve all been sitting around contemplating our mortality for quite a while now. Your urge to be human and your heart overrules your mind. It’s the human condition.

  5. In these trying times, we seek guidance from The Sayings of Angkar. These parasites plague the People. How do we address them, what wisdom do we consider?

    “We will burn the old grass and the new will grow.”
    “No gain in keeping, no loss in weeding out.”
    “The only good bourgeois is a dead bourgeois.”

  6. It’s simple really. 150,000 people have died from COVID. 150,000 is big number. (six digits, count ’em). Therefore, we should all be wearing masks and the economy should halt.

    I really don’t see any hope for it until scientists find a way to bring back people from the dead and cumulative deaths begin to decline.

    • That’s about how many people die from garden-variety flu on a moderately bad year. Sky is not falling. Vast majority of these people would’ve died in a few months from any other random infection because their bodies were already failing. That’s life. That’s how people die from old age. The only thing which is different this time is the incredible manufactured mass hysteria.

  7. Rather than locking everyone down and closing businesses, they should give the public more informatoin so we can make better decisions.

    For example, in the last seven reported days in San Diego County, 46 individuals died of COVID. (This is 46 deaths in a county population of 3.3 million!) Of these 46 deaths 25, (or 54%) were people over the age of 80.

    One wonders how the virus is reaching these elders. Are they leaving home to shop, contracting it from family members, contracting it from home healthcare workers, etc? I never used to see many people over 80 at the (now closed) bars I go to. So specifically how are these old people catching the virus? If people had this type of data, they could effectively modify their own behaviors. This UCSD study found disclosure more effective than lockdowns:

  8. Mask compliance looked pretty good at the BLM/antifa/whatever riots in Portland last night. 38th day in a row, and it looks like most people were masked up.

    But the crowd wasn’t social distancing (no word on masks) last night at the Lavish Lounge in Greenville SC during the Trap Rap concert where 2 were killed and 8 injured in a shooting that didn’t result in any arrests!

    “Lewis said at the news conference that he didn’t know whether the club had sought an exemption to the governor’s order or secured a permit for Saturday night’s event, but said it was clear the club’s patrons weren’t 6 feet apart.”

    In Washington it looked from the photos like there were lots of secret service snipers on the White House roof for the Preisdent’s July 4th address, but it’s hard to tell if they were masked.

    “Trump did not dwell on the pandemic in his remarks Saturday evening. Instead, he declared that “our country is in great shape.”

    I don’t know how much better it can get before it’s perfect! I have the feeling by the end of August the President is going to be talking about the “beautiful, perfect” United States from the inside of Cheyenne Mountain.

    • For those of you who missed last night’s concert in Greenville, learn up, because it was trap rapper Foogiano, who as far as I can tell hasn’t done any public service announcements about mask wearing among his fans. For those of you not familiar, “Trap is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in the Southern United States during the late 1990s…The genre gets its name from the Atlanta slang word “trap”, which refers to a place in which drugs are sold illegally.[2] .”

      I was never heavy into Trap, and Foogiano just talks too fast for me. I was more partial to Brand Nubian. Lord Jamar delivered it smooth, and he was anti-drugs in the community:

      “(Can a devil fool a Muslim?) No, not nowadays bro
      (Do you mean to say the devil fooled us four hundred years ago?)
      Why Equal Self, a trader made an interpretation
      Saying that we’d receive more gold for our labor in his nation
      (Did we receive more gold?) God, Now Cipher
      It’s time to drop the bomb and make the devil pay the piper”

      That was 30 years ago. Now the Mayor of Portland says:
      “This weekend, join me in calling for an end to violence so we can begin to rebuild and do the work of police reform this movement demands.”

      No dogwhistles, yo – I really did buy that album, in Newark NJ in 1991, cash money, with a roommate from the ‘hood. Everybody’s going to see what it’s all about, real soon now.

    • Jim: It is a good cartoon, but the U.S. actually has more strict mask laws and lockdowns than the countries cited. In most U.S. states, for example, it was illegal to operate a primary school. In France, on the other hand, students under age 11 were unmasked and back in their classrooms. Going forward here in Maskachusetts, assuming that unionized teachers are willing to leave their houses at all, the goal is to have children over age 2 wearing masks (but not until September at the earliest!).

    • Like I said, is it that hard to wear the mask? Are you going to keep digging up quotes and statistics just to prove against it? And I’m not some soldier who blindly does whatever the government asks. This is common sense. You put a barrier in front of your nose and mouth to limit the distance these particles travel. And yes, you should wash your mask(s) or wear disposable ones. You don’t need a PH.D to figure this out.

    • Jim: Apparently it is that hard! Maybe not for the Chinese, but if it is as simple as wishing to do something well we could wish ourselves into some awesome transportation by asking “Is it that hard to build 24,000 miles of high-speed rail?”

      The Facebook meme that you cite is inaccurate and misleading. We’ve heard from Pavel here that folks in British Columbia (part of Canada) are not wearing masks.

      says “Northern European countries’ residents seem more resistant to wearing them than their Mediterranean neighbors, who have been hit harder by the pandemic. In Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, fewer than 10% of people said they wear a mask regularly, according to surveys published between February and late May by YouGov PLC.”

      The U.S. is not a big outlier as you imply. Taiwan is an outlier. But if it is easy to be like the Taiwanese, why do other countries need to pay Taiwan to fab their chips?

      Remember that there were roughly 71 million Americans on at least one form of welfare as of December 2019 (see,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D for the Medicaid stats). When a substantial percentage of your population lacks the skills to survive in pre-plague times without taxpayer assistance, do you truly expect that overall population to be great at pivoting to do something new?

    • Jim: Do I wear a mask? You mean in the house where I’ve been mostly parked for four months? Or out walking around our exurb with Mindy the Crippler? Or going to Costco once every two weeks?

    • When you’re out where there’s potential contact with someone not in your household. That’s when I wear mine. I have several masks that go in the laundry with everything else. I have one with replaceable filters.

    • Jim: It is the law here in Maskachusetts to wear a mask when indoors (except in your own house, I guess). But since almost everywhere that I would want to go is still closed, e.g., the art museum, this is not highly relevant. Shopping isn’t fun anymore so I get almost everything online. I wear a mask at Home Depot, Costco, and Target for those rare excursions. I don’t wear a mask when outdoors here in our exurb. Cambridge had a “wear a mask on the sidewalk” law, which only the higher-income residents seemed to be following. The dictatorship has relaxed this rule a bit until midnight on Sept 22 (see ). Mostly I just avoid going to Cambridge. I have been out for a one real restaurant meal in the last four months. I didn’t wear a mask when sitting at the table (Capital Grill in Back Bay).

      Given how people are actually wearing the masks that they have, I don’t think that it is making a difference here. does not show a dramatic change in curve shape as a result of the May 6 mask law.

  9. @Philg: Well, for what it’s worth, your views and analysis are far removed from the expert opinion of people like Eric Toner from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg, who has directed all their pandemic tabletop simulations. He says we’re just about the worst in the world, the lockdowns will come back, everyone has to wear masks – for years! – and that’s that.

    Eric Toner:

    We suck:

    “The US response has been extraordinarily disappointing and wrongheaded,” he told me via Zoom, at the end of June. “Whenever there’s been an opportunity to do the right thing, we seem to have done the wrong thing. The US has to recognize that it is competing for first or second position of the worst affected country in the world.”

    Wave, schmave. Flattening, schmattening:

    “I don’t know whether it’s a first wave or a second wave. I don’t think it makes any difference…I think what’s important is that there’s going to be no summertime lull with a big wave in the fall. It’s clear that we are having a significant resurgence of cases in the summer, and they’ll get bigger. And it’ll keep going until we lock things down again.”

    Vaccines are well over a year away:

    “Mass immunization likely won’t come until 2022, and even then, Toner says vaccination may require a double dose to be effective. ”

    Masks forever:

    “As for those who refuse to wear a mask, Toner doesn’t mince his words.

    “They will get over it,” he says. “It’s just a question of how many people get sick and die before they get over it.”

    So we’re doomed to masks and recurring lockdowns until at least 2022, according to the Grand High Epopt and Illustrious Potentate of the Church of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He says you’re basically dead wrong. He’s not on Facebook, AFAIK, so you can consider him preemptively defriended.

    • Alex: I don’t think what I have said is inconsistent with what Dr. Toner is saying. If you assume a religiously-inspired population that cares only about Covid-19 deaths and nothing else, everything Toner says is accurate. Covid-19 deaths, at about the same rate as the worst-hit European countries but dragged out over months and/or years, will motivate this population to punish itself for its sins via shutdowns, hiding in bunkers, denying children an education and social life (“for their own good”, of course, because a handful suffered some sort of arguably Covid-19-related issue), etc. We don’t disagree on the number of Americans that Covid-19 will kill nor on how this will motivate Americans to react.

      I guess we disagree on the effectiveness of saliva-soaked face rags, as actually worn by Americans. He imagines some sort of dramatic effect from the “masks” while I look at the data from states that have required masks and can’t see any obvious effect (and, in any case, like any other “flatten the curve” measure, the masks would just delay the infections, not prevent them).

    • Sorry if I mischaracterized what you’re saying. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to tell if you’re arguing for the negative.

    • One can’t argue the panicked out of their panic. For example, we’ve had ample data from Europe that elementary school-age children are not a significant source of plague. Thus, schools reopened weeks or months ago in many European countries. Americans looked at the same data and said “On a planet of 8 billion, a few children had some issues with Covid-19, so it is time to redouble our panic.” So I’m interested in studying American panic and the religious observance within the Church of Shutdown, but I don’t imagine that I could argue for anything.

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