The evidence that masks prevent transmission of COVID-19 is very strong and is as close to “settled” science as you can get. The best evidence comes from studies conducted before vaccines were available which showed that counties with mask mandates and high mask usage had significantly lower COVID transmission rates than counties without.
Of course masks are not 100% effective. Seat belts are not 100% effective in preventing death in car accidents either. Instead, mask wearing is just one of many strategies that must be used in coordination. There are risks to requiring kids to wear masks in school as well and a healthy debate about that topic is a reasonable thing to have, but it has to start with an understanding of what the science says. Hospitalized COVID patients are skewing much younger now and the risk to kids from COVID is also much greater than earlier in the pandemic.
What would really help is if political pundits like Sue Lani Madsen would stop cherry-picking their science and complaining about progressives making them feel bad about themselves (“Science on masks should be treated as process,” Aug. 12), and instead encourage their followers to get vaccinated and wear masks in the grocery store. Maybe then we wouldn’t need to have this debate at all!