Masks -- Really?
November 5, 2020
As of Monday, November 2, 2020, all Laramie County residents and visitors are required to wear a mask “Whenever any person is inside, or in line to enter, any retail or commercial business, or any government facility open to the general public, including county and municipal buildings but excluding state and federal buildings; or”. This is not the entire mask order by any means. It is only the opening statement and already shows the idiocy of the order. To begin with all state and federal buildings are excluded. For the most part the people in those buildings are still living in Laramie County. Ever heard the phrase “double standard”? Granted, Dr. Stan Hartman and the Public Health Board have no jurisdiction over those buildings, but it shows what the Governor and Federal authorities think of the order these people are forcing on the rest of us without any consideration of what the public thinks.
The Laramie County Public Health Board is comprised of five people who are appointed by the County Commissioners. Tim Thorson serves as the President with Dr. Darryl Bindschadler as Vice President and Dr. Karl Musgrave, DVM, as Secretary. Dr. Brad Kincheloe, DDS, and Sue Hume, Public Health Nurse, round out the board. By the way, their phone numbers are all listed on the Laramie County Health Department Website. Just go to the Health Department Home page, Administration, then the Health Board page. They are listed at the bottom so you can contact them whenever you have a comment. Of the five County Commissioners only two have been adamantly outspoken in favor of the mask mandate, Troy Thompson and Gunner Malm. Only one Commissioner, Linda Heath, openly opposed the mandate. News articles with their full statements were posted on the KGAB website after the board meeting.
Let’s be clear, though. Dr. Stan Hartman is a Doctor of Internal Medicine. He is not an epidemiologist or certified in any other Public Health field. In reviewing his profile on WebMD he has only four ratings as a physician attaining one star out of five. WebMD is supposed to be a very credible source when quoted by medical professionals but I would take anything they say with a grain of salt. Kathy Emmons is the Executive Director of the Laramie County Health Department and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Master of Arts Degree in Guidance and Counseling and a Doctor of Management with concentration in Organization Development and Change. Nothing health related and certainly not public health related. In reading her biography she had no health-related experience on being hired as the Executive Director. Out of this entire group of people only three have any public health experience, Dr. Karl Musgrave, DVM, Dr. Troy Thompson, DVM, and Sue Hume, Public Health Nurse. The two veterinarians have experience through education in veterinary school. I know this only from my own experience with multiple veterinarians that worked as Public Health officers and my brief experience with veterinary work. All veterinarians receive at least rudimentary public health education in school because their chosen field has public health implications. Sue Hume is truly the only professionally trained public health individual on the board or the county commission.
But masks, really? Dr. Stan Hartman was interviewed on October 25th by Doug Randall from KGAB radio who posted the entire interview on-line. I was amazed when I heard the interview. To begin with he was supposed to be on at 1105 am but failed to call in. For the next hour he was raked over the coals non-stop by callers to the show. In his interview he said that he had tried to call in at 1105 but the phones were busy. I was listening that morning and nobody was on the lines because Doug was waiting on him to call. When he finally did call in, the comment that first grabbed my attention was when he tried to discredit all the callers who cited studies on the effectiveness of masks. He said that every study had been done by an uncredible source. So I looked at the studies. In October 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued a study of cloth mask effectiveness. In the opening paragraph they state that the issue of cloth masks is still under debate and that health care workers should not be mandated to wear cloth masks. Understandably that doesn’t say they shouldn’t be issued medical masks but those aren’t generally available to the public. At best, the CDC states that cloth masks, including multilayer masks, MAY provide some protection. Hartman has been adamant in every interview that masks in general were the answer to COVID. He has never differentiated between types of masks. The CDC did another study in May of this year with 14 randomized trials concluded that masks did not have a substantial impact on the transmission of influenza. Granted, it was for a different disease, but the reason for the study was to provide information for pandemic planning. But I guess the Centers for Disease Control (whom he quotes by the way) is not credible. In July 2020 Oxford University (one of the world’s most prestigious universities) published a study with six randomized trials in 2010 using 4,147 participants that had the same conclusion, no significant change in disease transmission. New trials with 9,112 participants once again showed the same result. The difference was that the new trials did show that surgical masks were 13 times more effective than cloth masks. Good luck getting a supply of surgical masks. Their use also implies that you must change them out often. Oxford’s studies were world-wide. In fact, Oxford even stated that “This abandonment of the scientific modus operandi and lack of foresight has left the field wide open for the play of opinions, radical views and political influence”. In other words, masks are being used for political purposes. Hartman apparently doesn’t consider Oxford University credible either. In May 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by Michael Klompas, M.D. et. al. that stated wearing a mask outside of healthcare facilities offered little, if any, protection from infection. The article further states that even passing in a public space has little impact on infection. Social distancing? Hmm. I guess the New England Journal of Medicine isn’t a credible source either, even though it’s one of the two foremost medical publications in the United States. There are many other studies with the same result (including the British Journal of Medicine), too many for this article. Three times Hartman stated that these sources weren’t credible. I apologize to these institutions for Hartman’s comments. He does not represent the citizens of Laramie County.
Hartman went on to criticize the callers who quoted these studies and belittled them during his interview. He has continued to maintain that masks are absolutely essential to beating the COVID virus. Now the other side of the coin has to drop and in defense of Dr. Hartman, the CDC has also recommended, on August 7, 2020, that everyone wear masks in public even though their own studies show that masks are ineffective. Granted, the studies were for influenza, but they are both viruses and the airborne transmission is the same. However, COVID is much less likely to be spread by contaminated surfaces per the CDC. Yet we’re still are sanitizing like crazy.
As far as the mask order goes, Sheriff Glick and Cheyenne Police Chief Kozad have both come out publicly and said that they will not enforce the mask order. Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove has publicly stated on KGAB radio that she will not prosecute anyone for violating the mask mandate. The mandate firmly states that “A person is not required to provide any documentation or explanation demonstrating that the person cannot wear a Face Covering for any medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.” With that caveat and the reactions by law enforcement and the District Attorney, how can the mandate even be effective?
I guess the question is now who do you believe? The CDC has differing opinions depending on what you may read from their own publications. And the other world-renowned institutions are in opposition to Hartman and Dr. Alexia Harrist (State Public Health Officer and a pediatrician by the way) but who at least has some experience in epidemiology with the CDC. Oops. That’s an organization that Hartman doesn’t think is credible. I have long had little to no respect for people who jump on-board a situation or event for political correctness and I have absolutely zero respect and only disdain for those who will use an unfortunate event for political gain. Wasn’t it Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s Chief of Staff) who made the comment “never let a good disaster go to waste” (paraphrase). I will never say that COVID does not exist or that it doesn’t pose a threat, but common sense really does need to prevail. Is destroying people’s lives worth the steps being taken nationwide? Even here the number of suicides are up, suicide intervention by law enforcement is up, alcohol-related incidences are up, domestic violence is up, and so on and so on. The cure is definitely worse than the disease. It’s time reason returns to politics.