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Sci Tech    H2'ed 11/3/20

How much is a face mask worth? Try $3000

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Message Robert Adler

Every face mask worn consistently in public in the US is worth at least $3000 to society, a new study shows. Or, to put that differently, every American who chooses not to wear a mask is costing the rest of us at least that much.

Every face mask worn saves society $3000-$6000
Every face mask worn saves society $3000-$6000
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This eye-opening calculation comes to us from a team of medical, public health and economic experts at Yale University. You can find a preprint of their paper here .

The researchers cite several lines of evidence to arrive at their estimate:

--As of the date of their study, countries with pre-existing norms for mask-wearing by sick people experienced a 44 percent slower growth rate in Covid-19 cases and a 48 percent slower growth in the number of deaths than countries without such norms. Those effects remained significant even the authors controlled for other mitigating factors statistically. The researchers note that mask-wearing is equally important for people who aren't sick, since we know that a significant percentage of people infected by the SARS-NCoV-2 virus can remain asymptomatic yet still spread the virus.

Although the above statistics indicate that universal mask-wearing would reduce the rate of viral transmissionthe much-discussed r factor--by much more than 10 percent, the authors decided to use a 10 percent reduction as an extremely conservative estimate.

--When they plugged that relatively minimal reduction into a widely used model for the trajectory of the pandemic along with commonly used estimates of the costs to society of premature or excess deaths, the result was a conservative estimate of $3000 to $6000 of benefit to society for every person who wears a mask consistently.

The researchers add that this estimate is extra-conservative since it only looks at excess deaths and doesn't include the costs to society of hundreds of thousands or millions of sick people. Nor does it count fewer cases and deaths among the mask-wearers themselves. "Our estimates," they write, ". . . suggest that the effect of masks could be 5-6 times as large."

The authors provide a separate analysis for the benefit of highly effective N95 masks for front-line health care providers, who, as we've learned, are at particularly high risk of contracting the SARS-NCoV-2 virus and passing it on. In addition, they are absolutely necessary to treat the sick and save lives. "Multiplying these factors together," they write, "the social value of each N95 mask for a healthcare worker could easily be more than a million dollars per mask."

The researchers conclude by pointing out that the availability of such a simple, cheap and effective intervention is a rarity. "Outside of crises, policies do not exist where a few dollars of expenditure per person can produce thousands of dollars in benefit. We are in a rare moment when such benefits are achievable--this is an urgent crisis and action is necessary."

As we know, there is still no universal mask-wearing mandate from the federal government, nor is there likely to be one as long as Trump remains in office. However, according to a National Geographic assessment , 44 states have mandated mask-wearing under at least some conditions, and 74 percent of Americans polled say they "always" wear a mask when out.

Unfortunately, many Republicans continue to receive the opposite message from the President and from conservative media. As a result, while 84 percent of self-identified Democrats say they always wear a mask, just 66 percent of Republicans say they do. The largest gap--a 22 percent difference--is between Democratic and Republican women, reporting 89 and 67 percent mask wearing respectively.

That politically determined difference implies more than 13 million extra non-mask-wearers. At $3000 per person, that means they are costing the rest of us at least $39 billion.

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I'm a retired psychologist and freelance writer focusing on science, technology and fact-based political and social commentary.

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Robert Adler

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Perhaps anyone choosing not to wear a mask in public during the Covid-19 epidemic should be willing to cough up $3000 along with the virus they're potentially spreading.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 1:30:41 PM

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Comment by Rob Kall:

Like the meme says.


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Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 1:34:11 PM

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Reply to Rob Kall:   New Content

Classy!

Which is what we all love about the this incredible site.

We each are doing our part for the most important campaign in history . . .

Make OEN Great Again!


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Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 8:59:26 PM

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There are many factors determining the consequences of this or any contagion. Although it does seem now that masks of almost any kind can reduce the quantity of infectious particles in close or enclosed quarters, simplistic statistical studies rarely aid understanding, but they can be misused to support a position. This one is clearly trying to do just that, with its blatant political focus.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 4:18:02 PM

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David,

I'll cop to couching the Yale findings in political terms because the issue has become blatantly politicized by our super-spreader in chief, Donald Trump. However, I don't think it's fair to toss the Yale researchers into my boat. They just did a pretty simple, basic and conservative analysis.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 4:26:38 PM

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I just downloaded the Yale paper and immediately noticed two things that raise questions about its purpose and value. One is that it's dated April 1 but is still in pre-print and apparently hasn't been peer-reviewed. (Note that I'm not considering April Fool's Day here.) The other is the lengthy list of authors, which is a tactic that has been developed to give more apparent weight to a report. That looks like padding, especially since likely familiarity with statistical methods appears to be the common qualification for the authors.

A study looking for correlations with a single poorly defined parameter is practically the opposite of a high-powered study, that is, one that actually support conclusions.

I wear a mask where mandated (or when I'm doing dusty work), but I recognize that distance and ventilation are the best transmission preventative.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 6:44:50 PM

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The authors could have put a countervailing cost on the social impact of obscured faces. This might be especially high in the U.S., with your high rate of carried guns, but it has so far been unmeasured in schools or possible increase in misunderstood speech (especially for the lip reading deaf).

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 7:01:45 PM

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Mercola had a good article on mask yesterday. See and read the comments:Is It Time for Full-Time Mask Mandates? at click here

RFK, Jr. did an interview on 10/29 that included talk on mask: TRUTH, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Season 2, Episode 7 featuring Jeremy Hammond at .youtube.com/watch?v=A9xE4fpYUMI

There is an open question on the problems from inhaling particles from the mask themselves.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 5:08:21 PM

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Masks - prepping you for greater things to come: click here

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 6:59:16 PM

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Doubtful about the above? Perhaps you'll find this World Economic Forum video persuasive:

tter.com/wef/status/799632174043561984?lang=en

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 7:07:48 PM

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Smoothly telling us how they plan to cut our throats. Psychopaths!

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 10:04:29 PM

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Extraordinary. Being a dabbler in hyperbole, I find that I have to edit some of his excellency's comments and take only the "good". His appeal to the coward in the whitehouse is now of no avail.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 9:57:49 PM

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Three thousand dollars? Just shows how slavish devotion to statistical manipulation will screw us in the end...just ask Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash how it works out. Or read here.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 7:15:49 PM

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Before we all continue digging deeper into our own rabbit holes, I'd strongly recommend that everyone take the time to view the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma." It turns out that it shouldn't be rich vs. poor or left vs. right or any other societal division, it should be all of us vs. the supercomputers at Facebook, Google, etc. They're not trying to screw us, they just want us to sit, stare and click. Seriously, if you haven't viewed it, please do.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 7:51:22 PM

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Reply to Robert Adler:   New Content

Keeping searching. Make sure the stenographers are providing sources for follow up. Read the source to see whether they are listed just to trick you into thinking that it supports the premises of the article. Corroborate.

Make up your own mind. Stay vigilant, because even trusted sources sometimes for no apparent reason, break bad.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 at 10:02:33 PM

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"How much is a facemask worth ? : $3,000.

What's it worth to separate families, un-employ millions and destroy the REAL world economy ? PRICELESS !!!

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 at 4:04:57 AM

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You said it, Kenneth - perfectly stated!

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 at 4:39:53 AM

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Reply to Kenneth Lee:   New Content

Gosh, I didn't realize that putting on a face mask would cause all those terrible things. I naively thought that if everyone was willing to wear one, a lot fewer of them would have happened.

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 at 5:43:43 AM

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Thanks!!@shadwilliams.sol system

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 at 3:48:55 PM

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We can argue all day long about the merits of or the uselessness of mask wearing. My takeaway from this "study" is the reinforcement of binary thinking. So Republicans and Democrats were surveyed. That leaves out the majority who register Independent. I guess their behavior is not relevant when you have an agenda. Binary thinking leaves no space for nuance. As always, who benefits?

Submitted on Thursday, Nov 5, 2020 at 2:07:34 PM

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Totally agree. I'm absolutely, 100% opposed to binary thinking!

Submitted on Thursday, Nov 5, 2020 at 3:20:53 PM

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