A year of face masks in Slovenia

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Slovenian government ordering residents to wear face masks. From Wikipedia:

From 29 March, wearing a face mask, even one made at home, or equivalents such as scarves that cover the mouth and nose, is mandatory along with protective gloves; the decree stipulates that masks and gloves need to be worn in indoor public spaces. As of 15 October 2020 face masks or equivalent face coverings are required everywhere in public spaces (including outdoors) for any of the statistical regions designated as “red” (more than 140 confirmed infected per 100k population)

American say-gooders had good things to say about Slovenia. From Vox, May 5, 2020:

It seems like some countries have figured out not only how to flatten their coronavirus curves, but also how to send them plunging downward. From Slovenia to Jordan to Iceland, governments took early action to impose lockdowns, test and trace thousands of people, isolate the sick, encourage social distancing and preventive measures like mask wearing, and communicate honestly with the public. In effect, they followed the prescribed playbook for such a pandemic, and — surprise, surprise — it worked.

(Note that the WHO’s prescribed playbook for a pandemic, prior to 2020, explicitly said “do not wear masks or close borders unless you’re an island”)

Its success mainly stems from an aggressive early lockdown, quarantines of sick people, and generous government spending.

What Slovenia has shown, then, is that aggressive government action and intervention can help keep people from spreading the disease. Even by the government’s own numbers, it could do more testing, but for now, the current measures appear to be working.

How has a year of science-informed “aggressive government action” worked out? Slovenia is #3 on the leaderboard of countries ranked by COVID-19 death rate. Only Belgium and the Czech Republic (masked since March 18, 2020) have had a larger percentage of the population killed by COVID-19.

Our government is impressed enough by these statistics to use our hard-earned tax dollars to buy Facebook ads. From March 16:

The Golf Hotel Mokrice Castle near Brežice:


  • Slovenian border barrier (folks in Slovenia follow science, but fail to recognize how much wealthier a country can become via low-skill migration)
  • Pipistrel, a world leader in aviation innovation (including electric airplanes), based in Slovenia
  • Melania Trump, the country’s most famous export

10 thoughts on “A year of face masks in Slovenia

  1. unless you can go back and replay the whole scenario without masks you have no idea what the death rate in Slovenia would be if there was no mandate. could be lower or higher or no effect. not one of your highest quality posts 😉

    • That article from May: “Its success mainly stems from an aggressive early lockdown, quarantines of sick people, and generous government spending. What Slovenia has shown, then, is that aggressive government action and intervention can help keep people from spreading the disease.”

      So as long as Slovenia’s death rate was low, we could say with confidence that aggressive government action was responsible for the low rate. But now that COVID-tagged death rate in Slovenia is high, we cannot say with confidence that coronavirus laughed at aggressive government action?

  2. Rochelle Wilensky, MD, MPH and Director of the CDC throws cold water all over you today:

    “What they’re saying: “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”


    “We’ve just got to hang in there a bit longer,” he said. “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.”

    Do you have any Facebook friends left from the CDC? You’d better start watching for the black helicopters, because they’re going to be coming for the “Neanderthal Thinkers” and mask-deniers.

  3. Sadly this country is just one of the clear cases where COVID numbers just don’t follow your simplistic logic. Yes, things were going relatively great on that front until sometime in October. And those articles you quote are generally completely correct.

    But then shit happened. And masks are just one of the many factors, which is what you like to avoid or ignore altogether in these type of posts. I really don’t feel like going into details because it is a complex topic with many interconnected factors among which are government incompetence, civil disobedience and your general, run of the mill stupidity.

    But sure, you keep clinging to the mask wearing issue.

    • J: But it wasn’t a “complex topic with many interconnected factors” when the death rate in Slovenia was low. As noted above, “… preventive measures like mask wearing, and communicate honestly with the public. In effect, they followed the prescribed playbook for such a pandemic, and — surprise, surprise — it worked.” It would have been trivial for any other country seeking a similarly low death rate to have one.

      Had the death rate stayed low, presumably #science would tell us that preventing Covid was as simple as “following the prescribed playbook” (maybe not the 2009 WHO pandemic playbook referenced).

      Now that the data are in and the Slovenian death rate is higher than all but two other countries on Planet Earth (but not as high as here in Maskachusetts or New York, where Governor Cuomo communicated honestly with the public (except maybe regarding his activities with various young females?)), you’re saying that it IS a “complex topic with many interconnected factors”.

      https://www.khanacademy.org/science/high-school-biology/hs-biology-foundations/hs-biology-and-the-scientific-method/a/the-science-of-biology says that, if you want to do #science according to the scientific method, you’re supposed to formulate your hypothesis before you receive the data.

    • I just realized it’s been nearly 30 years since Travels with Samantha and I still can’t tell whether you honestly see the world just as a simple 0/1, or it’s carefully cultivated clickbait public front.

      Let’s start by looking at likely most accurate local figures (in English for your pleasure): https://covid-19.sledilnik.org/en/stats

      Country effectively shut down completely a year ago. Unlike Italy, it was on time, that much must be said. Sadly with a concurrent change in government to one with severe authoritarian aspirations. But at the time people gave them the benefit of doubt and a certain grace period so they mostly avoided all contacts for a month or two AND masks were mostly worn where contact was unavoidable.

      That part was mostly “textbook” and it led to a mostly carefree summer. But you’re the one who keeps reducing the effects of all this to just masks.

      Sadly, between then and now, the incompetence and arrogance of the would-be dictatorship that we still haven’t been able to drop, lost any resemblance of credibility on any topic. Like an assembly of Trumpenfuhrer knock-offs, but worse. So, when it comes to covid, for the large part, people stopped following even those of the most common sense restrictions, health guidelines etc. simply out of spite for the government and from being fed up with some totally arbitrary restrictions that have no basis in science or anything resembling logic and were mostly aimed towards transition of power on all levels, not public health even when they tried masquerading as such. And that have been openly flaunted by those imposing them. So we end up in the deep shithole despite mask mandates.

      I will spare the readers from the laundry list of things the government has done wrong or hasn’t done but should. The current situation is not all their fault obviously, but they share a large part of the burden for the “rebellion” that did nothing but demonstrate how stupid people will do stupid things just to prove their point.

      If you reduce covid “science” to masks as something more than just a part of the “toolbox” in the equation, as you keep doing, then yes. We’ve been following “science” all along. Except it has never been about only masks but in addition to. That you keep going on about this, you’re even worse than whoever is writing the perfunctory articles you like to quote so much. Except those authors are understandably not going into details because they can’t or won’t for a number of reasons that are an entirely different matter altogether.

    • Remember that it wasn’t me who said that the world was “a simple 0/1,” but the coronascience experts quoted in the original post and the companion posts regarding Czech Republic and Slovenia. They made a prediction, in the spring of 2020, that these nations would be spared Covid-19 deaths because preventing Covid-19 was a simple 0/1 process. All that a country had to do was “follow the science” (not the WHO science that said, through early June 2020, that masks for the general population were ineffective, but better science), be “honest” with the population, order some lockdowns (“14 days to flatten the curve”), and close borders (contrary to WHO advice through 2019).

      I never took the position that humans would be in charge of the coronavirus. In fact, I took the Church of Sweden position: human actions in the typical continental country would have only a small effect on COVID-19 (exceptions: islands with tightly closed borders; police states). That’s the opposite of “simple 0/1”. I agreed with https://unherd.com/thepost/coming-up-epidemiologist-prof-johan-giesecke-shares-lessons-from-sweden/ (April 2020), which is essentially a humble perspective. The guy has an MD/Ph.D. but he tells humans that sometimes the virus will win and they have to accept that.

  4. Slovenia is next door to Italy, and the virus eventually got its schengen visa!
    The lockdowns and a lovely early spring worked for round one, but then came winter and flu season!

    Let’er rip and safeguard the elderly and vunerable seems to be the only strategy that will get us thru.

    • As far as I remember from some recent media reporting, officially there have been no diagnosed flu cases this year.

  5. Btw, you mentioned round 4. The one that I am concerned about is round 7 and the Yukon variant, omigod, they spread faster than a speeding bullet, and are stronger than Kryptonite. Round 7 I tell ya.. just wait!

Comments are closed.