A Michigan guide to wearing masks, or not, during coronavirus

Michigan’s new mandate for masking aims at curbing COVID-19, but it follows months of mixed messages. (Shutterstock)

July 17 update: Whitmer tightens Michigan’s mask order but makes it optional when voting

Emotions are raw and confrontations have turned ugly, even violent, this week after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s issued an executive order that Michigan businesses ensure their customers wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

And some confusion abounds. It was just five months ago, after all, that the nation’s doctors were focused on hand-washing and the surgeon general tweeted in capital letters: “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!”

So what gives?

In February, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams begged Americans not to buy masks — a message at odds with today’s understanding of COVID-19.

Truth be told, scientists’ and doctors’ understanding is still developing on a virus that the world knew nothing about last December. 

“Patients, the community, are getting mixed messages,” said Dr. Nik Hemady, chief medical officer for Honor Community Health, which operates 11 community health care sites throughout Oakland County.

Related: Violence erupts in Michigan over state mask mandate ‘powder keg’

Still, a consensus has emerged on the benefits of masks, according to Hemady and other doctors, researchers and a civil rights and employment discrimination attorney Bridge turned to to sort through a tangle of messages and misinformation. 

First up, we tackled the most important query:


Do masks work against COVID-19?

Short answer: Almost certainly, yes, by reducing the spray of respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth.  

Long answer: It’s less clear how fully masks can prevent the spread of the virus.

Scientists say they are still trying to determine to what extent the virus is spread through aerosolization rather than droplets, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Network, an online publication of the American Medical Association.

To start, first know that the cross-section of a human hair is about 75 microns.

Aersolation are smaller droplets — less than five microns, that linger in the air and can pass through surgical and cloth masks. Aerosolization may cause some spread during, say, the intubation of a patient which causes gagging and coughing, or in confined spaces such as meat processing plants, where workers must yell in close quarters to be heard.

But accumulating evidence suggests that, in routine settings, the virus is spread more often by the larger droplets — five microns and larger. Once expelled from the body, they more quickly fall to the ground or to surfaces. In those cases, the mask of an infected person would capture much of the virus as these droplets are expelled as we breathe, cough, or sneeze.

Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan epidemiology professor, said face masks won’t guarantee against transmission of the coronavirus, “but nothing is an absolute.”

So while masks are no guarantee, they are an important part of “layered protection” that also includes social distancing, said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan epidemiology professor and internationally known expert on the transmission, containment and social response to outbreaks and pandemic planning.

“The evidence is pretty clear and it’s accumulating that [masks] work,” Monto told Bridge. “It’s not an absolute, but nothing is an absolute.”

That’s important to remember as stores, salons and restaurants begin to fill again in Michigan. Just this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported on a case study that suggests masks can be a powerful tool as economies reopen.

Two hair stylists in Missouri worked with 139 clients over more than a week, despite the fact that both had symptoms of COVID-19. Both stylists tested positive for COVID-19. Yet no customers apparently developed virus  symptoms, the CDC case study found. The 67 clients who were tested for the virus all tested negative.

But we were originally told to skip the masks!

Right. We were. And it wasn’t just U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, in a February tweet. Anthony Fauci said something similar in early March.

Though it must be noted that their remarks, while off the mark, were triggered in part by legitimate concerns that there weren’t enough masks available for frontline healthcare workers. 

Still, these early missteps illustrate a frustrating aspect of science — it takes time to build knowledge, said Dr. Matthew Sims, who oversees Infectious Diseases Research at Beaumont Health.

Much of what the medical community knows now was merely conjecture in February and March. 

Eight months after COVID-19 was first detected in China, the science is still trying to catch up as scientists publish their findings and experiences with masking, which are then analyzed and critiqued by peers around the world.

In that way, our understanding becomes sharper and clearer, said Dr. Subhashia Mitra, the chief of the Infectious Diseases division at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine.

Scientists now better understand that asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread have been critical drivers of the pandemic, which is why doctors stress the broad deployment of masks in public spaces. 

Among recently-published estimates is a study published July 6 in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), where researchers concluded that asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers spread about half of COVID-19 cases. 

In another study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, researchers examined a small Italian town that went into immediate lockdown after its first COVID-19 death. The study found that 40 percent of the residents who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms.

“It takes time to do thoughtful research — to get feedback from peers who say ‘you should do this’ and ‘you should do that,’” MSU’s Mitra said, adding “you can do tests in a lab, but that’s a far thing from the real world.”

In full disclosure, Bridge, too, published a story in February, as COVID-19 bore down across the U.S., amplifying the message that hand-washing and flu prevention were the larger public health concerns at the time.

Dr. Peter Gulick, an infectious disease disease expert at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and director of the MSU Internal Medicine Osteopathic Residency program, was clear at the time that this advice might change as the understanding of the virus grew.

“It’s a moving target,” Gulick told Bridge in February.

Science takes time, and the world is still trying to better understand how COVID-19 spreads, infects and kills, according to Dr. Matthew Sims, who oversees Infectious Diseases Research at Beaumont Health.

Sims, of Beaumont, echoed those words Wednesday.

“Things change. There were times I said ‘No, people should not be wearing masks at this point. You know, and maybe I should have been clearer — [stressing] ‘at this point,’” Sims said.

Which masks work best?

N95 masks, also known as N95 respirators, are, as the name suggests, designed to stop 95 percent of air particles, and are generally agreed to offer the best protection. 

But they’re often hard to find and can be expensive, and there is a continued push to reserve them for medical staff and other frontline workers.

Surgical masks are loose-fitting, disposable masks. Those and cloth face coverings may offer less protection, but cloth face masks especially are easy and inexpensive to make, wash and reuse, and the CDC offers easy-to-understand guidelines on their use. 

They are most effective when they are widely used by people in public settings, doctors and health experts say.

“Anything that creates a barrier” reduces the risk of spread, said Hemady of Oakland County.

Any mask that “creates a barrier” is another layer of protection against COVID-19, said Dr. Nik Hemady, chief medical officer for Honor Community Health centers in Oakland County.

Again, it’s no guarantee, it’s just another layer of protection, Sims noted.

“If you sneeze or cough (in a mask), are you going to be able to force something through that mask? Probably. Is it going to be less than if you didn't have the mask? Absolutely,” Sims said.

“It's not risk elimination,” he said. “It's risk reduction.” 

What does Michigan require?

Whitmer’s five-page order, handed down Friday, requires businesses to refuse entry to customers not wearing masks, and imposes penalties for not following the order. Michigan residents also must wear masks outdoors if they cannot maintain six feet of distance.

There are exceptions, most prominently for people who “cannot medically tolerate a face covering,” children younger than five years old, those eating or drinking at a restaurant or bar, or receiving a service which necessitates the temporary removal of the mask. 

Customers are to remove masks if asked to for identification purposes, or to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or disabled, or where the ability to see a person’s mouth is essential to communication.

Other exceptions are extended for people “actively engaged in a public safety role,” officiating at religious service, or giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

Businesses also must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. Failure to comply could lead to a $500 fine.


Does the governor’s executive order carry the force of law?

Whitmer's executive orders have "the force and effect of law" according to the state’s Emergency Management Act, so long as the state of emergency is in place.

Whitmer has extended the state of emergency multiple times without the approval of the Legislature, after negotiations fell through. Her actions have been challenged in court by state Republicans, who argue that it's an overreach of executive power.

But a state Court of Claims judge sided with Whitmer in May, upholding her power to extend the emergency without their sign-off. That decision is currently being appealed.

What kinds of health conditions allow me to not wear a mask?

Some people may be unable to wear masks for a number of reasons, including respiratory problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Other conditions also may make it difficult or even impossible to wear a mask —  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety, claustrophobia or autism; conditions that can make a person particularly sensitive or fearful of something over their nose and mouth, according to a brief published July 8 by the Southeast ADA Center and Burton Blatt Institute at the Syracuse University College of Law.

People who have trouble moving the small muscles in the hands, wrists, or fingers may not be able to tie the strings or put the elastic loops of a face mask over the ears. So too, a person who uses mouth control devices such as a sip and puff to operate a wheelchair, may be unable to wear a mask.

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act or HIPAA allow me to skip a mask? 

Neither of these federal laws are germane, said Deborah Gordon, a civil rights and employment discrimination lawyer in Bloomfield Hills, who also specializes in constitutional law.

“The terms are thrown around a lot and people don’t really know what they are. They know they have something to do with health and maybe privacy,” she said.

And she’s blunt when it comes when it comes to cards that have circulated on social media and designed to be printed and carried into stores. The cards assert that the ADA offers a blanket exemption.

“That’s idiotic,” she said.

In fact, the U.S. Justice Department has warned consumers that the cards claiming the ADA provides protection against mask laws are fraudulent.

“The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations,” according to the statement.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination based on an person’s disability, primarily in employment issues. But even for the law’s  wider-range implications — making public places accessible, for example — the ADA carves out exceptions only for those who can offer proof of their disability when they seek an exemption or accommodation. A person needs to provide medical evidence of a disability before acquiring a handicapped parking tag, for example, Gordon said.

Neither the Americans with Disabilities Act nor the federal health privacy law known as HIPAA prevent business owners from demanding that customers wear masks, said civil rights and employmnet discrimination attorney Deborah Gordon.

Neither the ADA nor the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the health information privacy law also known as HIPAA, prevents a business owner or anyone else from inquiring about a person’s health status if they enter a store without a mask.

HIPAA is designed to protect personal health information from being shared without a patient’s permission by specific groups with access to that information — health providers or insurers, for example, Gordon said.

Just as the ADA does not offer blanket protection against mask orders, HIPAA doesn’t prevent a hardware store or a coffee shop from demanding that customers wear a mask or provide a legitimate reason why they are not, she said.

“It doesn’t prevent me from saying ‘I don’t want to tell you,’ and it doesn’t prevent the business owner from saying ‘then can you please shop somewhere else,’” Gordon said.

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Nothing to see here
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 8:32pm

Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses.

Savannah W
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:50pm

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, agrees with the effectiveness of masks. I'd be surprised if anyone here disagrees with Baruah. Is this still being cast as political? Baruah is a Republican.

Above Partisanship
Fri, 07/17/2020 - 1:17pm

The lone Republican who wore a mask throughout the hearing was Rep. Henry Vaupel, R-Fowlerville, who also chairs the House Health Policy Committee.

Vaupel said he noticed that Democrats were generally wearing masks during the hearing and Republicans weren't. He said lawmakers from rural areas might not be seeing as many cases as those in urban areas, and those lawmakers tend to be Republicans.

It could also be a matter of personal belief on the effectiveness of masks, Vaupel said.

"It's certainly not doing any harm," Vaupel said of wearing masks. "And if they help a little bit, then it's good for me."


Masks help
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 8:34pm

A study on different regions in Germany, for example, suggests that the adoption of mandatory mask ordinances decreased the daily growth rate of COVID-19 infections by 40 percent. Modeling from the University of Washington similarly indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95 percent of the population wore a mask while in public. Furthermore, a study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that a federal mask mandate could save the U.S. economy from taking a 5 percent hit to our GDP.

Sat, 07/18/2020 - 6:05pm

1) We know that every computer model, including weather models are total garbage.
2) The studies you reference did not follow the scientific method and were unable to establish when the postitive testees were even exposed.
What we DO know from numerous relevant studies is that mask usage by the general public is NOT recommended and in many cases INCREASES infection rates by more than 10x.
But pay no attention to that data since it conflicts with Fearless Leader Gretch.

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 8:36pm

total nonsense.

Enough already
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 8:44pm

Why are so many conservative people fixated on what was known in February? It's a novel virus and capable of mutating even today. Masks for healthcare workers were almost non existent back in February. PPE is still hard to get. Mask clearly provide protection, depending on the mask and how it is worn, but virtually all of them are better than none of them, as long as they are worn appropriately. Tired of the tired narrative my "conservative" friends and family parrot.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:26am

Well us 'conservative's are tired of the worn out 'its for our health and safety' when this has turned completely political. The increase is cases is reflective of the increased testing, DEATHS are dropping. If you have your mask on like the rest of the sheep you should be safe, right? Mind your own business, I'm not responsible for your health.

Paul Jordan
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:02am

If it has become political, it is because of so-called 'conservatives' who have made a political issue out of it. Your last comment reflects the reality behind the specious claim that being required to wear a mask is an infringement on liberty.
The truth is that many of you so-called 'conservatives' simply don't care about the well-being of the rest of us. That isn't conservatism--it is selfishness.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 11:42am

Absolutely. I have never seen such selfishness. Your "rights" for your "liberty" stop where my right to stay healthy begins. Or it used to, when America really was a great country. Now we are selfish; clearly bumbling, inept and corrupt when dealing with virus at the federal level, and have become a banana republic. It is so sad.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:38pm

My body, my choice, right?

Of course, when that choice negatively impacts another's body, maybe we should consider the limits of the "my choice" argument?

I suppose so, so long as we don't pick and choose when we accept such limits.

I'm on board with that approach, are you?

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 12:15pm

Tomato, Tomatoe.... You can imply/project/call it what you wish. I'm not anti-mask, you can wear one if you chose, I choose not to. I am however anti-tyranny and anti-stupid.

Hey VeeMann
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:03pm

Is conscription tyranny? Do you owe your country anything? Is freedom FREE? Your attitude sounds like Benedict Arnold. Russia and Putin LOVE people like you who want America divided and decimated. We used to be the United States, now, Rose is right, we are a Banana Republic, the dream of authoritarian plutocrats who use the Oval Office to sell Goya Beans. Makes me sick!

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:36pm

You are lucky you can purchase everything you need without shopping in stores. Good for you.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 8:21pm

Truly, isn't technology grand.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:45am

It's not political. There's plenty of medical guidance and science offered above. Please read it.

Diane J
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 12:47pm

Please, if you or any of your family experience the need for Oxygen or intubation let medical personnel that its YOUR body and you have the RIGHT not to wear a mask. Those who have been trying not to infect others by wearing one will appreciate it

Tim Bartik
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 4:24pm

Several relevant facts here: (1) Deaths are now rising, as would be expected given the lag between case detection and death; (2) in many states, the positive test rate is going up quite a bit, so the case rise is mostly not due to increased testing, but due to an increased infection rate; (3) the main benefit of masks is NOT that it reduces the mask-wearer's odds of getting infected, rather it reduces the mask-wearer's odds of infecting others. There is some benefit to oneself of wearing masks, but currently the thinking is that the main reduction in risks is for others. So there is reason for society to be concerned with whether or not you wear a mask: if you happen to have the virus, but don't have symptoms yet, you are more likely to infect others if you fail to wear a mask.

It really makes no sense to me that people don't want to wear masks. Currently, the evidence suggests that if we could somehow get most everyone to wear masks, this would significantly reduce the transmission rate of the virus, possibly below 1, so that each infected person would infect less than 1 other person, which would cause the pandemic to die out.

Encourage everyone to wear masks if you want to have a robust economic recovery!

Sun, 07/26/2020 - 4:45pm

Except that there have no studies of actual transmission of wearing masks both with and without distancing. In other words, is it the masks or is it the fact that I only go to the store once a month? Really, from a logical point of view, if arguments are made that we can spread the virus by surface contact, then wearing masks would be a double edged sword, because you are actually introducing additional surfaces that you are placing right next to your face. So this tells me that I do not need to fear any surface spread whatsoever.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:49am

In answer to the person who said Covid 19 was a novel virus. It actually is not. It's real designation is SARS-COVID 2....It's a new iteration of SARS-COVID 1 that President Obama dealt with. While rather lengthy, this is a science website that compares the viruses and how they are similar and different. Like those over 70 are more at risk with COV2, while COV1 was more deadly across the board...

Barry Forever!
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:06pm

I miss Obama too! He actually spoon-fed Trump on how to handle this, but to no one's surprise Trump bungled it. Trump treats our country like his business ventures, corrupted and bankrupted.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:25pm

Obama spoon fed the USA BS for 8 yrs.

Just sayin'
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:02pm

Trump fed us cargo ship loads of BS for almost 4 years and left us in a hot mess. 1.3 million new unemployment claims. Don't even get me started.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:39pm

Everyone is angry. They like to feel like they have some control in their lives. The economy is not what Trump promised and a lot of people are hurting.

Susan K
Mon, 07/20/2020 - 3:01pm

The economy was just fine thank you until the entire country was shut down for something that was no worse than the flu. In fact, the flu over the past has been much more deadly. This is and always has been political. I know those who oppose Trump will not agree, but we will just have to agree to disagree.

states' rights
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 9:47pm

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who pushed to reopen his state, announced that he is the first governor to test positive for coronavirus.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 10:07pm

After reading the above piece, I am even more confused as to whether or not there was an actual conclusion presented to the reader. I had lost track as to the number of times "there are no guarantees" came up as a response to the actual effectiveness of requiring someone to wear a mask.

Allow me offer something a little more conclusive to the above article.

From the New England Journal of Medicine (authors listed in link below) regarding the overall effectiveness of masks:

"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic."


From the National Center for Biotechnology Information (authors listed in link below) regarding the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures relating to Influenza pandemics.

"Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids (36). There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."


And from "A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy" by Denis G. Rancourt, PhD

"No RCT study with verified outcome shows a benefit for HCW or community members in households to wearing a mask or respirator. There is no such study. There are no exceptions.

Likewise, no study exists that shows a benefit from a broad policy to wear masks in public (more on this below).

Furthermore, if there were any benefit to wearing a mask, because of the blocking power against droplets and aerosol particles, then there should be more benefit from wearing a respirator (N95) compared to a surgical mask, yet several large meta-analyses, and all the RCT, prove that there is no such relative benefit.

Masks and respirators do not work."

It goes on.

"Why There Can Never Be an Empirical Test of a Nation-Wide Mask-Wearing Policy

As mentioned above, no study exists that shows a benefit from a broad policy to wear masks in public. There is good reason for this. It would be impossible to obtain unambiguous and bias-free results [because]:

Any benefit from mask-wearing would have to be a small effect, since undetected in controlled experiments, which would be swamped by the larger effects, notably the large effect from changing atmospheric humidity.

Mask compliance and mask adjustment habits would be unknown.

Mask-wearing is associated (correlated) with several other health behaviors; see Wada (2012).

The results would not be transferable, because of differing cultural habits.

Compliance is achieved by fear, and individuals can habituate to fear-based propaganda, and can have disparate basic responses.

Monitoring and compliance measurement are near-impossible, and subject to large errors.

Self-reporting (such as in surveys) is notoriously biased, because individuals have the self-interested belief that their efforts are useful.

Progression of the epidemic is not verified with reliable tests on large population samples, and generally relies on non-representative hospital visits or admissions.

Several different pathogens (viruses and strains of viruses) causing respiratory illness generally act together, in the same population and/or in individuals, and are not resolved, while having different epidemiological characteristics."


If the purpose of the above article was to offer a truly balanced source of information to readers, Ms. Erb should have been able to locate this information just as easily as I did.

The fact that she did not is very troubling.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:51am

Kevin, all of the Fake News Media published similar stories this morning. This is literally Orwell's 1984 when they suddenly get a note in a tube stating what the "new truth" is and brainlessly start spouting it into a microphone.

Oh well
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:42pm

I agree, but see it coming from Republicans and Fox News. I see you and your ilk doing it right here in the comments.

Leon Hulett
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:47am

I like your comment an the quote from the New England Journal of Medicine.

The EPA recommends a minimum oxygen level for humans of 19.5%. Masks lower oxygen levels, by 3.0%. Our atmosphere has an oxygen level of 21.5%. Masks are lowering oxygen levels below EPA guidelines. Oxygen deprivation is called hypoxia. That can not be a good thing.

I don't have a number yet for the increase in carbon-dioxide levels inside masks. But that can not be a good thing either.

Worldometers reports the new cases world-wide are 99% Mild Condition. It seems to me we should be seeing more public info about Mild Condition illnesses, and Recoveries and Active Cases instead of cumulative cases and cumulative deaths. We have a second-wave of Mild Condition cases.

When shall we say it is over? The WHO says 50% of the population has to have antibodies or immunity to the illness to say it is no longer a Pandemic. Witmer declared an Emergency on the first day we had two deaths, based on information from the same man that admitted shutting down the economy has had no effect. I think the WHO guideline is not realistic. It is over, and we should be saying it.

Best regards,

Former Republican
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:16pm

Yet neither Kevin nor the rest of you sycophants can explain why states and countries requiring masks have the virus under control, guess those facts escape your narrative. I wake up every morning thankful for Whitmer. God bless you, Gretchen! --Never Trumper

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 4:57pm

I have an oximeter to check blood oxygen levels. My oxygen levels stay the same with a mask on or off. I wear it in public. Haven't passed out yet. Actually, I haven't seen anyone faint with a mask on.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 11:55am

Kevin, five-star post here. Thanks for all the links to scientific publications and for your effort to explore an opposing viewpoint. Quite an act of journalism!

middle of the mit
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 3:26pm

To blow a story out of the water with one little comment.

[[["We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. ]]]

If these masks don't work for people in a non-health environment, why would the work for someone in a health environment?

Is there some power or force that masks incur when they enter a health facility that makes them super masks?

Also, and this is going to be a little surly, think beans. What do beans make you do? And you have a cloth mask over that and some tight woven blue jean material or other type of cloth. TWO layers!

And yet............. there it is!

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 7:43pm

You state, "Compliance is achieved by fear,..." I think altruism is more apt. Most people are willing to wear these masks because it is a small action that can reduce the risk they pose to people they encounter. Are you comfortable with the possibility that your selfishness may result in someone else's death?
I think your comments are totally off base. A few minutes of self satisfying internet searching does not make you an expert. The fact is that masks are required in Michigan. It is good policy. Even though the phase "no guarantee" was used, the experts using that phrase all stated that mask wearing reduces the risk of spreading this virus. This is not difficult.
Do masks work?
"Short answer: Almost certainly, yes, by reducing the spray of respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth. "
"“The evidence is pretty clear and it’s accumulating that [masks] work,” Monto told Bridge. "
"“Anything that creates a barrier” reduces the risk of spread, said Hemady of Oakland County."

Maybe you should reread the article and drop your know-it-all attitude.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 07/17/2020 - 5:35pm

Um, Joe, I did.

And if you had actually read the quote (with link included), then you would have known that, "Compliance is achieved by fear..." came from Dr. Rancourt and not me.

Look, if YOU want to play medical security theater to put someone at ease, knock yourself out.

But, if you want to use the power of government (especially a power it doesn't actually possess), to force someone into doing something that DOES NOT actually accomplish anything (see links above to back that statement up), not only is that a gross waste of resources, it's also malfeasance.

When I make a claim, I'll post a link to back it up. When the governor issues an "order", her sources are strangely lacking.

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 9:38am

See below.

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 9:42am

By the way, what would you suggest we do while this virus is still spreading?

Jim R
Sat, 07/18/2020 - 8:47pm

The authors of your NEJM later followed up their article in the Letter section. They SUPPORT wearing masks. “ We understand that some people are citing our Perspective article (published on April 1 at NEJM.org)1 as support for discrediting widespread masking. In truth, the intent of our article was to push for more masking, not less. It is apparent that many people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or presymptomatic yet highly contagious and that these people account for a substantial fraction of all transmissions.2,3 Universal masking helps to prevent such people from spreading virus-laden secretions, whether they recognize that they are infected or not.4
We did state in the article that “wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection,” but as the rest of the paragraph makes clear, we intended this statement to apply to passing encounters in public spaces, not sustained interactions within closed environments. A growing body of research shows that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is strongly correlated with the duration and intensity of contact: the risk of transmission among household members can be as high as 40%, whereas the risk of transmission from less intense and less sustained encounters is below 5%.5-7 This finding is also borne out by recent research associating mask wearing with less transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in closed settings.8 We therefore strongly support the calls of public health agencies for all people to wear masks when circumstances compel them to be within 6 ft of others for sustained periods.”

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 7:18am

Masks are Ineffictive for the General Population. CDC never in its history has recommended Masks for the General Population until it became Politically Correct to do so. There are many more risks than benefits. I would like to an article on the number of OSHA Complaints filed by workers that have to wear Masks all day. Labored Breathing, higher anxiety and Blood Pressure, lowered Pulse Oxygen Levels, Facial Fungal Infections....I have heard of all of these going on in the workplace.

New England Journal of Medicine just published this Study. "...widespread Masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic."


Thu, 07/16/2020 - 8:45am

Do you (should you) wear a mask as you go through a drive thru window?

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:19pm


Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:29pm

Pete, if you're having an in person interaction with someone, even if briefly and through an open window, if you are able to wear a mask then you probably should. It's a good question because it kind of falls into grey territory as you're not actually entering their business. But yes, I think the polite and appropriate thing to do would be to wear one, at least when you are having a face to face interaction.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 8:52am

It's such a simple, kind, responsible , inexpensive thing, wear a mask when in public. And yet, many refuse and are killing us.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:21am

Because they don't work as advertised.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:23pm

What works?

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 8:06pm

Social distancing.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:33am

And let's apply the "What if we're both wrong?" test.

If I'm wrong, and we don't really need masks, then people have to have a little piece of cloth on their face for a little while.

If those opposing masks are wrong, then they kill people.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 3:24pm

Yes! This is what I've been saying for a while now. The level of risk is so much higher to not wear one. If it turns out that we didn't really need to, oh well, like you said I wore a piece of cloth on my face for no reason...but if the opposing side is wrong, it has deadly consequences. One of these scenarios I'm comfortable with, the other I am not.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:04am

I am a disabled adult. I was judged by a federal judge based on medical history and facts. I did not ask to be disabled and its very difficult to once be a good employee and now being broken. My life is difficult. I have no family or friends, I barely survive on the 1719.00 a month I get. I do not receive any assistance except SSDI. No food stamps or housing assistance as I do not qualify. I cant afford any medications including insulin because I make too much money. So my life is a struggle and I rarely leave my house. Mostly because I just dont have any money after paying monthly bills but once in a blue moon I may have an extra 10 dollars and want to go to the corner store for a rare treat. A slurpee or something small. Living this way is tough and then having people judge me based on wearing a mask or not only adds to everything. I know I should stay home and be safe and I rarely leave. Maybe 6 times this year I have left but I am suffering from being a shut in as well so please people dont judge me based on a mask. I wont judge you on the color of your skin or the way you speak. My life is hard enough without others shaming me and harrassing me over a mask. You may not agree that I can or cannot wear a mask and you do not have to. I respect your freedom, please tolerate mine.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:21am

The problem is people want to squabble and debunk science. They prefer clinging to beliefs over observing evidence and adapting to proof, changes in circumstances. We have people literally enraged by the governor's prudent mask order. I say prudent based on what we know now, what we saw in the past, and where we want to be. We don't want to be where we were, let alone where Italy was, where New York City was, New Jersey, etc. NOR do we want to be where Arizona is NOW. ICUs in Arizona are at capacity, like the other places I just mentioned. Yet Arizona STILL does not have a state-wide mask order!

Listen to this doctor in Arizona, wondering why we didn't learn, why there is no state-wide mask order, how to choose who will get a ventilator, and where to put the surge of dead humans.


Cases are surging in the US at fever pitch in parts, places that thought they had things under control, places that thought the virus was a hoax, places that thought they were immune. Meanwhile politicians and businesses are encouraging opening schools and amusement parks. These actions are inexplicable putting greed and politics above human life. Yet these people boldly and hypocritically proclaim that they are Pro Life.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:48am

"Still, a consensus has emerged on the benefits of masks..."


If a thousand people on the internet come to the consensus that drinking bleach is a good treatment to ward off bronchitis, does it hold any scientific weight? No. And a million more examples could be made.

Masks were NOT a good idea for the public before, and they are NOT a good idea now.

I won't be wearing one and you'll have to shoot me dead if you want to get one on me.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:33pm

Consensus is exactly that! You are struggling because you don't have consensus.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 4:10pm

The voice of reason! Bravo!

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:17pm

Thank you!

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 9:50am

Here is a video of two Drs proving masks dont deplete your oxygen levels. The 2nd Dr goes so far as to put like 7 or 8 masks on top of each other. People complaining about masks just suffer from lower cognitive ability and refuse to research or understand the problem.


This isnt even getting into the fact that face shields are also still an option.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:02pm

Instead of linking to #fakenews youtube, you should link to some vetted studies that follow the scientific method.

Masks have been proven to increase the effort required to draw air into your lungs, i.e. they cause a negative dynamic pressure as compared to no mask.

This negative pressure has been shown to reduce blood oxygenation levels, especially in anyone who has respiratory issues - Asthma, COPD, you name it.

Sorry, you're just wrong. I'd link to some vetted studies which follow the scientific method but unfortunately they aren't on #fakenews youtube and you would therefore have no use for them. So you have my permission to keep your head in the sand. Ostriches everywhere approve of you.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:20pm

Just not true, asthma is only affected during an active event. Otherwise, it's not.

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 1:33pm

Fascinating that you siezed that word "Asthma" and not the rest of it. Why? Because it didn't agree with your State Scientology beliefs?
Very sad.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:41pm

Those physicians in the video make a good point.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 7:32pm

I have asthma and wear a mask all day for work. If your asthma is under control, wearing a mask is no big deal. If your asthma is not under control, speak with your doctor to improve your situation. Also, wearing a face shield is an option if claustrophobia is really the issue.

middle of the mit
Fri, 07/17/2020 - 7:57pm

I wonder what welders, people with allergies who mow the grass, insulation installers, painters and healthcare workers do when they have to wear these masks 5-12 hours per day? Even in the summer heat!

Do I need to point to anything for you to accept that there are people who do these things with a mask on longer than needed to go shopping in a grocery store let alone to a hardware store?

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 10:20am

Those people chose those occupations and whatever goes along with it. For everyone else its being mandated. Apples and oranges, but nice try.

middle of the mit
Sun, 07/26/2020 - 8:56pm

Why not answer the question?

How do these people use these masks without passing out as Jeff and others have suggest they would?

I wasn't trying anything except to get someone to honestly answer a question to that supposition.

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try. And you aren't even going to make an attempt, are ya?

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:05am

“CDC can’t confirm the accuracy of the numbers reflected in this image. Currently we are not finding any data that can quantify risk reduction from the use of masks”, a CDC spokesperson told Reuters.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 10:20am

Simple solution to all of this - just assume that everyone else in the world has the virus, and stay away from them. I get out and about every day, go into stores, wear a mask when the sign says to and take it off when I leave that place, walk down a different aisle if someone approaches me, don't go to places where I'd be near others for an extended (greater than 15 minutes) period of time, wait if someone is standing in front of what I want to buy, wash my hands, clean my surfaces, and mind my own business. If you see me walking on a sidewalk, you won't get near me, as either I, or you because you are a courteous person, will leave the sidewalk and we will pass at a great distance. Yes, I am one of the highly affected people, aged, conditions, and such that I sure don't want the virus, but I am not going to stop living my life no matter what you do.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 11:51am

Ditto. Very reasonable. I'm the same way. I'll wear a mask, but I'll never believe that's going to make the world safe. I'm still going to stay away from people as much as possible. I get the impression a lot of people are fired up about this whole mask debate because they are convinced that as long as EVERYONE is wearing a mask, we can all go back to living a normal life, traveling the world, sightseeing, partying, restaurants, you name it. And then when cases go up..."it must be all those people who aren't wearing masks!"

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:44pm

Or worse yet, they'll blame it on PELOSI. You know they will.

Alice Grant
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 12:29pm

Right on some of the masks boxes is says it will not protect you from the Covid19 virus...I think they are trying to control us. Other years we have had viruses just as bad as this if not worse and nothing was said or done and no big fuss was made over it.This being an election year etc i can see why all the controlling and to be blaming this all on our president..BS.!!

Dena Arner
Sun, 07/19/2020 - 11:55am

Please tell me when we recently had a virus that killed over 130,000 people in less than 6 months. I'll wait. We need reason and logic not conspiracy theories.

Diane J
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 12:43pm

I have late stage COPD so according to this I don't have to wear a mask BUT I also care enough about my fellow people to wear one when I go out or are near others. It makes me angry that so many people refuse to even consider wearing a mask to protect others because they still listen to jerks with no medical knowledge telling them COVID-19 isn't a problem.

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 6:20pm

Thanks, Diane

Hope for Change
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:09pm

We should all petition Trump to do away with or extend term limits, like his buddy Putin did in Russia. Then we can continue to elect Obama. LOL

Obama wouldn't tolerate bounties on our troops.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 2:52pm

This is an informative and well balanced article that focuses on the facts.

Policymakers however (like the governor) are implying masks can replace social distancing. That is not the case at all. Masks need to be part of the layered protection--not a substitute. We should wear masks, but assume they do nothing because they aren't scientifically PROVEN. If you would think it's too risky to go to a salon where no one is wearing a mask, then you just shouldn't get a haircut.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 5:44pm

"If you would think it's too risky to go to a salon where no one is wearing a mask, then you just shouldn't get a haircut." No, if you go to a salon and no one is wearing a mask, you should take pictures, videos, report the owner. There is an order to wear masks.

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 7:32pm

Attorney general told people to stop buying N95 masks several months back. Not all masks.