Post #816: We actually did have a rational, national plan for mask use?

Posted on September 18, 2020

Source:  The Daily Beast, from an article on the demonization of masks in Trump world.

Yep, we did.  We had a national mask initiative in the works.  It’s just that the President killed it.  As you can read in this famously not-liberal publication, Business Insider.  You can also see the same information buried inside this Washington Post article.  You can also see that the bare bones of this story were reported back in April, when the mask initiative was killed.

I just wanted to document this here, as it really didn’t get much play on its own and it’s already slipping out of the news.

Recall that on April 3, 2020, the CDC changed its guidance to Americans and recommended that everyone wear a mask.  That’s documented in Post #602.

I thought that our public health bureaucracy had been totally passive in that regard.  CDC had this historic shift in its guidance, and in turn, US DHHS appeared to do nothing.  No public service announcements encouraging mask use.  No official plans for making of procuring cloth masks.  No publicly-supplied masks.  Nothing.

But we now know that’s wrong.  US DHHS knew that CDC was going to recommend masks, and they planned a coordinated, nation-wide delivery of five re-usable cloth masks per address, via the USPS, for the entire country.  Back in April.  Just after CDC issued the guidance.

Starting, quite rationally, in the areas (then) hardest-hit by coronavirus. Which, we can now say with hindsight, unfortunately, were all Blue states at the time.  You have to wonder what the decision would have been if the virus had hit the Red states first.

It’s almost as if somebody at US DHHS could have written the headline at the left.  Instead of some random blogger (Post #655).  And so, as it turns out, that blog post wasn’t some sort of crazy idea.  It was mainstream thinking from the US Department of Health and Human Services.  The only crazy part was that the crazies in the White House blocked it.

And so, even though those plans were well along, including negotiations with US manufacturers, the President’s men quietly quashed the whole thing. 

The excuse they now give is that they didn’t want to “panic” the US population.

No, seriously?  Is there nobody else in the USA who can remember events that are more than a week old.  Panic?  Are you kidding me?  That train left the station a month and a half before they killed the US mask initiative.  We don’t need the friggin’ Federal government to tell us when to panic.  We are perfectly capable of doing that based on private-sector sources of information.


Panic question:  When did panic buying commence in the US?  Can’t recall?  I can, because I documented that here, as that progressed from item to item.

By the end of February 2020, there was not a face mask to be had in our local Home Depot (Post #555).  This was before Virginia had even one reported case of coronavirus. 

By March 9, 2020 the only toilet paper left on the shelves at our local Safeway was the truly inferior generic.  (Post #543).  At that time, we were panic shopping, but it was genteel panic shopping:  Only the quality items had been stripped from the shelves.

By March 17, the TP aisle at Safeway was bare (Post #560).  Nary a sheet to shit on, as far as the eye could see.  National media published thought pieces, trying to understand why Americans were hoarding toilet paper (Post #563).  (Hint:  There’s a reason they call it panic buying.)  So this wasn’t just local, and it was hardly a secret.

By March 24, we were like Soviet Russia:  People were lining up at the store any time toilet paper was rumored to be available.  And the stores were rationing what they had.  Documented in Post #568.

And by March 27, having whole sections of grocery store shelves stand empty had become the new norm. (Post #576).  Eggs, butter, milk, meat, dishwater detergent.  And hand sanitizer, of course.  Canned vegetables.  (Canned vegetables?)  Doesn’t anybody else remember signs in the grocery stores limiting your purchase of meat?

People were lining up hundreds deep based on the rumor of toilet paper availability.  And some weeks later, they cancelled this national mask initiative, because they didn’t want people to panic.

Yeah.  Well, I guess that makes just as much sense as every other pronouncement on coronavirus that comes out of the White House.

Take vaccines, for instance.  Last I heard, they’re going to have 100 million doses of a completely effective vaccine delivered to every US address by drone, next week.  Or maybe it was next year, using hyper-freezers.  Or maybe it was 300 million.  Or maybe the vaccine isn’t effective.  But it’ll be thoroughly tested.  Or maybe not.  Pick whichever line of bull you like the most, and believe in that, I guess.

And it’s not like those are the only aspects of this being fumbled.  Have you read about our national policy to ramp up production of N95 masks?  No?  That’s because we don’t have one.

So, spouting illogical nonsense about vaccines is fine.  Having no national policy to ensure supply of critical PPE is fine.  But using a national delivery of cloth masks, to advertise and reinforce the CDC’s guidance?  Nah, that was way out-of-bounds.  Don’t want to panic the public. A month after the toilet paper flew off the shelves.

As this pandemic grinds on for the next couple of years, let’s not forget this little incident.  Just file it away in the drawer marked “imagine how this could have gone differently”.

Finally, if you need a little dose of mask-related irony, give this a quick read.  I think maybe I’ll start a collection of newspaper articles about loudmouthed “skeptics” who got seriously ill from following their own advice on COVID-19.