Science: opening schools without masks stops a coronaplague (data from Florida)

Inspired by the official coronascience that I’ve seen in the last 1.5 years, here is an analysis that follows the same logic and methodology….

Florida was suffering from a terrible coronaplague, leading to an exponential rise in hospitalizations of patients tagged with COVID-19, a tweet from the Florida Hospital Association on August 23, 2021:

As a way of fighting this wave of contagious death, public health officials wisely decided to reopen schools on the usual schedule, with the last school district opening on August 23, 2021 (calendar). Mixing students from different households in the same room, oftentimes without masks (due to a governor’s order that parents retain the ultimate decision regarding whether their children would wear masks 7 hours/day), diluted the coronavirus so as to render it harmless. Same chart from the same source, today:

The red curve that was rising inexorably toward infinity is now trending down, having peaked right around the time that schools throughout Florida were back in session.

Because coronanumbers don’t move without government action (see Thomas Aquinas regarding the Prime Mover and First Cause), we can be confident that it was the reopened mask-optional (depending on county) schools that caused the decline in hospitalizations. Thus, it is fair to say that #Science proves that unmasked children in schools, or at least tightly packed children in indoor classrooms (in the counties that defied the governor), are the key to ending an exponential coronaplague.

(Separately, while on a Zoom call with a group of MIT alumni a couple of nights ago, I asked the assembled group whether hospitalizations in Florida were trending up or trending down. All of the folks on the call, based on what they’d read in the media and heard on NPR, believed that COVID-19-tagged hospitalizations in Florida were trending up.)

(On a more serious note, deaths tend to lag hospitalization and therefore there are still quite a few people dying from what seems likely to be an annual summer COVID-19 wave in Florida. The cumulative death rate remains lower than in many states, but it is still painful to confront the fact that we humans cannot escape a determined virus.)

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14 thoughts on “Science: opening schools without masks stops a coronaplague (data from Florida)

  1. If you post heresy like this on any mainstream forum, it will be censored, down-voted or at least ridiculed (#TogetherWeAreStrong applies to mobs first and foremost).

    They’d come up with all sorts of reasons, perhaps the difference in vaccination of 4% has just triggered the elusive “herd immunity”!

    https://usafacts.org/visualizations/covid-vaccine-tracker-states/state/florida

    Only Deplorables sabotage “herd immunity” (which we see in perfect action in almost fully vaccinated countries like Spain).

    • Yeah, Phil is a real pointy head. The next thing you know he will be quoting Shakespeare and Emmanuel Kant and Malcom Gladwell, people like that.

    • “Someone is well read.”

      Yep, Phil knows the history of rational thought, Unlike the “intellectuals” who #BelieveInScience. What a piece of work is a man. As for Gladwell… I won’t be caught reading his books, for an obvious reason.

  2. I am very surprised that a school district with a bunch of elementary schools hasn’t done a well-designed experiment. Some schools 6′ social distancing, another 3, another 0. Some with masks, others without, etc. Grad students would eat it up….very limited real costs, no subjects to recruit and very timely (would get lots of press). Why is it not being done anywhere?

    • Are you asking why educators are not doing science? Last I heard there wasn’t much science in an education degree.

    • BP: I am also surprised at the lack of random trials for meds and supportive care. You would think every hospital with a steady flow of COVID-19 patients would be doing at least one A/B test.

      But the answer with schools could be that #Science has already given us the answer: masks are the best thing that ever happened to kids! And if the same kids get together unmasked right after school that doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the in-school masks! The changing standard on distance is a little tougher to explain, but at any given moment we are confident in our science!

    • Actually they’ve done it in Germany in the first half of 2020. It turns out, the most effective measure was social distancing (-13% infections where social distancing was ordered as compared to districts where it was not mandatory), then masks (-5%). All the rest (closing of shops, sports halls etc) was under 1%, so well within noise/error marge.

    • Thanks, Adso. Do you have a reference? https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02457-y is a recent favorite of mine. In a randomized controlled trial in Bangladesh (https://www.poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/publications/Mask_RCT____Symptomatic_Seropositivity_083121.pdf ) getting about half the people to don cloth facemasks had no effect on the dreaded coronavirus. What’s the science-informed public health decision based on that? Continue to order schoolkids to wear cloth facemasks.

      The same study found that getting half the population to wear surgical masks cut “cases” by 11 percent. Someone unfamiliar with the Works of St. Fauci might call this “almost worthless” since the virus continued to spread and the 11 percent likely did not receive salvation, but only a week or two of delay in their ultimate infection. How did Nature characterize this 11 percent reduction? “Highly protective” in the subhead: “Face masks for COVID pass their largest test yet; A rigorous study finds that surgical masks are highly protective, but cloth masks fall short.” What is it like having 89 percent of your former risk in exchange for wearing a mask 8-24 hours per day? “Face masks protect against COVID-19. That’s the conclusion of a gold-standard clinical trial in Bangladesh, which backs up the findings of hundreds of previous observational and laboratory studies.” The article continues “Masks will remain an especially crucial line of defence…”. Since they’re using the language of war, imagine body armor for soldiers being described as “highly protective” when 89 percent of bullets get through and kill the person wearing it.

      What do the paper authors say? “Our intervention demonstrates a scalable and effective method to promote mask adoption and reduce symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections.”

      I don’t see why people don’t like my 35 mph speed limit idea (https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2021/02/05/save-lives-by-limiting-cars-to-35-mph/ ). It would cut driving-related deaths by a lot more than 11 percent and therefore would be “super highly protective”.

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