Hospitals that reinstate universal masking with flimsy surgical masks are anti-science
Not even 1 hospital is running a cluster randomized trial
Recently, a number of hospitals have reinstituted mask requirements for all staff who are seeing patients. My own hospital has never stopped masking all patients, staff and visitors. These policies are scientifically bankrupt and reflect poorly on medicine.
The burden of proof is simple. If you think universal hospital masking reduces spread of viruses and makes people better off, you have to show that with evidence. If you think the policy should be implemented above some threshold, but not below… you need evidence.
If you think masking should be tied to waste water… guess what you need? Evidence.
There is literally no good evidence that universal masking of staff, patients, visitors— some or all of these groups— above some threshold of cases or based on sewage effluent PCR— improves outcomes. The entire strategy is unscientific and reactionary. It is something an admin came up with… an admin that should be fired.
It is disappointing to see so many hospitals engage in what is essentially superstition. Moreover, not a single hospital is implementing these measures as part of a cluster randomized trial. Thus, they are both promoting unproven interventions, and are unwilling to generate evidence to test their hypothesis.
The hospitals also do not consider the downsides. Not seeing faces distances oneself from other humans. Hard of hearing patients need to see lips. And worst— the hospitals appear to be nakedly political, as its no secret that democrats love masking and republicans don’t. Its also no secret that most of the admins and docs at these hospitals are democrats. In fact, we showed that only politics predicted dropping mask mandates in 2023— not covid19 case rates or hospitalizations. And, I bet politics predict reimplementing them too.
Masking has made a fool of most scientists. They love bioplausible stories, but have failed to conduct even the most basic efficacy trials. Masking in hospitals is unlikely to slow the juggernaut of respiratory viruses— both iatrogenic and the more relevant q of across the community. Implanting the policy year over year— and running 0 cluster randomized trials— is embarrassing for medicine. We might as well open up a Vitamin C infusion center and pray to the sun god.