Commentary: Mask mandates hearken back to America’s first fight for #FaceFreedom

Why are Americans still wearing masks? Why did they ever start?

Cartoon created by Citizens' Council for Health Freedom.

During the 1918 Spanish influenza, many Americans refused the mask. Even some health care workers refused. A historical account of that era recently printed in the New York Times called them “a symbol of government overreach, inspiring protests, petitions and defiant bare-face gatherings.”

Penalties in San Francisco ranged from $5 to $10, or 10 days in jail. On November 9, 1,000 people were arrested, swelling city jails to standing room only — apparently no social distancing required. Even Mayor Davie of Oakland was jailed. Those who couldn’t pay the $5 fine were jailed for 48 hours. One man, sentenced to five days in jail, said, “That suits me. I won’t have to wear a mask there.”

The city’s Anti-Mask League demanded a repeal of the mask ordinance. The group said there was no scientific evidence that masks worked and it was an infringement on constitutional rights.

The League was right, on both counts. In 1919, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy wrote, “No evidence was presented which would justify compelling persons at large to wear masks during an epidemic.” There is still no evidence today. In February of 2020, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted, “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus.”

Researchers agree. “Cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or as PPE,” wrote Dr. Lisa M. Brosseau, ScD and Dr. Margaret Sietsema, PhD in April. Physicians in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) further asserted, “wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.” Even former CDC interim director and epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm quipped in a June 2020 video:

“Never before in my 45-year career have I seen such a far-reaching public recommendation issued by any governmental agency without a single source of data or information to support it . . . The highest frequency of mask-wearing population in the world is in Hubei, China . . . we had virtually everyone wearing one publicly. It didn’t make a difference.”

Despite all this evidence, 93 percent of Americans are wearing masks today — inside, outside, exercising, alone in their cars, on the sports field, and wherever the government demands. Why? According to the NEJM article, “In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

Thankfully, the Imperial College London reports the likelihood of catching coronavirus from an infected close contact with no symptoms is only 3.5 percent. An infected person with symptoms has only a 12.8 percent chance of infecting a close contact. The chance of transmitting it in households is just 21.1 percent.

In 1918, most people died because there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections stemming from the Spanish flu virus — not directly from the virus itself. In 2021, we have Vitamin D, supplements like zinc and quercetin, early treatment medications like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, oxygen, antibiotics, steroids, ventilators and more to prevent and treat Covid-19.

Why are Americans still wearing masks? Why did they ever start?

The wildly inaccurate PCR test, and faulty definitions of “COVID death” are just the start. Overzealous governors, state emergency health powers acts, social media and 24/7 news cycles are also to blame. However, another factor may be at play, too.

Does today’s dependency on government encourage compliance? In 1918, Medicare, Medicaid, disability, unemployment and Social Security did not exist.

Freedom is on the line. Mandatory masking sets a dangerous precedent, infringes on civil liberties, restricts speech and obstructs breathing. When will Americans choose freedom and facts over fear?


Twila Brase

Twila Brase, RN, PHN, is president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a national, patient-centered, privacy-focused, non-partisan organization located in St. Paul, Minnesota since 1998.