What Will It Take for Masks and Face Shields to End?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

face shield and mask

Story at-a-glance

  • According to Dr. Paul Offit, people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing for “the next couple of years” even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available
  • A viral video shows the violent arrest of an Ohio mom at a local football game, ostensibly for not wearing her mask in the stands. The problem with arresting people for not complying with mask rules is that there’s no evidence to support the idea that masks prevent the spread of the virus
  • Face shields, recommended as an added layer to protect the mucous membranes of your eyes, are useless for the prevention of viral spread, especially if used alone in lieu of a mask. Masks with exhalation ports are also useless as they do not filter the outbreath
  • Flow visualization research shows that while face shields block the initial forward motion of the jet, expelled droplets move around the visor and spread out over a large area. Visualizations for face masks equipped with an exhalation port show droplets pass through the exhale valve unfiltered
  • September 18, 2020, the CDC posted updated COVID-19 guidance that, for the first time, mentioned aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, saying “this is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” It also noted that aerosolized viruses can travel farther than 6 feet. The CDC deleted these sections September 21, claiming they were posted in error. Aerosolized spread confirms the futility of mask rules


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

According to rotavirus vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit,1 people will need to continue wearing masks and social distancing for "the next couple of years" even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

"People now see vaccines as a magic dust that's about to be sprinkled over this country and make this all go away. It doesn't work that way," Offit told MarketWatch, September 21, 2020.2

Offit, who sits on the Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said he's wary of a COVID-19 vaccine that may be rushed to market under pressure from the government.

The U.S. Health and Human Services' Operation Warp Speed has pledged to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021,3 if not sooner.4 However, developing a safe and effective vaccine normally takes years and begins with animal studies.

The COVID-19 vaccines are all being rushed straight into human clinical tests, forgoing lengthy animal trials altogether. Vaccine makers are also being shielded against liability if people are harmed by the experimental vaccines.5

Early Warning Signs of Vaccine Dangers

Early warning signs that something might be amiss have already started emerging. As detailed in "Gates Tries to Justify Side Effects of Fast-Tracked Vaccine," results6 from Moderna's Phase 1 human trial revealed 100% of volunteers in the high-dose group suffered systemic side effects. Side effects included fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia (muscle pain); 21% suffered "one or more severe events."

A May 26, 2020, article7 in STAT news told the harrowing story of Ian Haydon, a healthy 29-year-old participant in Moderna's vaccine trial who suffered severe side effects requiring hospitalization.

While Haydon recovered from the side effects, which included a raging fever, fainting, nausea, muscle pain and generally feeling "as sick as he'd ever felt," just imagine what such side effects might do to an elderly person, an infant, young child or someone who is metabolically compromised or has an underlying condition such as a heart problem. For them, the reactions could be far worse and possibly fatal.

Disturbingly, in July 2020, it was reported8 that Moderna's 100-mcg dose vaccine — despite its 100% side effect ratio after the second dose — would proceed to Phase 3 trial assessment.

Like the Moderna vaccine, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine also appears to come with a shockingly high rate of side effects. Results9 from one of its Phase 1/2 studies published August 15, 2020, revealed a clear majority of participants experienced side effects, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, malaise, chills and feeling feverish.

September 6, 2020, AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 vaccine trial due to a "suspected serious and unexpected adverse reaction" in a British participant.10,11 The company did not divulge the nature of the adverse reaction.

However, The New York Times reported12 that "a person familiar with the situation, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity" said the individual" had been found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections."

September 12, 2020, the British Medicines Health Regulatory Authority gave AstraZeneca the go-ahead to resume its Phase 3 trial in the U.K., after an independent review found it "safe to do so."13,14

And here is yet another major surprise that hardly anyone knows. Offit warns there could be problems with Moderna's and BioNTech's messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines because they have extraordinary shipping and handling needs that include using dry ice. "We've never done that before in this country," he told MarketWatch.15 "Never."

Why Enforce Ineffective Mask Rules?

A viral video (above) posted September 23, 2020, features the violent arrest of an Ohio mom at a local football game, ostensibly for not wearing her mask in the stands.16 The video shows a police officer tasing Alecia Kitts at the two-minute mark.

Also clearly on the video is footage showing that the officer who tased Kitts had his own mask off, under his chin, from the time he tased her until he was walking her away in handcuffs. He only put the mask back on when someone in the stands yelled out, asking him where his mask was. 

According to The Ohio Star,17 Tiffany Kennedy, a friend of Kitts who shot the video, said Kitts has asthma and had taken the mask off. Kitts' mask is visible in her right back shorts pocket in the video. Ohio coronavirus rules issued by Governor Mike DeWine require people to wear masks at outdoor events when 6-foot social distancing is not possible.

Not wearing a mask in Ohio is considered a misdemeanor. Penalties for failure to comply can include up to 30 days in jail and a $750 fine. While DeWine said his intent isn't to arrest people for noncompliance, he failed to veto a bill that would have reduced fines and banned jail time for noncompliance.

The fundamental problem with assaulting18 and arresting people for not complying with mask rules is that there's no evidence to support the idea that masks prevent the spread of the virus. In fact, the science tells us masks cannot block viruses.

SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter between 0.06 and 0.14 microns.19 Medical N95 masks — which are considered the most effective — can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns.20 Surgical masks, homemade masks, T-shirts and bandanas are even more porous.

At best, a mask may reduce the transmission of large respiratory droplets, but it does nothing to prevent the transmission of aerosolized particulates exhaled by asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals with COVID-19.21 Health agencies' own research show it's a futile measure that only provides a false sense of security.

For example, the World Health Organization's June 5, 2020, guidance memo22 on face mask use states "there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19."

Similarly, a May 2020 policy review paper23 published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, concluded that "Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."

This is highly relevant, as the influenza virus is about twice the size of SARS-CoV-2. If masks cannot prevent transmission of influenza, they certainly cannot prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Valved Masks and Face Shields Are Useless

Certain masks are more useless than others, with valved masks being among the worst, followed by homemade cloth masks. This includes both commercial cloth masks and N95-rated masks with one or two exhale ports. The reason for this is because masks with breathing valves do not filter the outbreath.

To be clear, while an N95-rated mask with exhale port will not protect others, it may, however, still offer some protection for the wearer. If you’re wearing a mask, N95-rated masks are the most effective choice. The caveat is that it must be properly fitted and put on and removed as instructed. Medical staff must go through fit tests24 for medical N95 masks, which makes them an impractical choice for the general public.

Face shields, recommended25 by Dr. Anthony Fauci at the end of July 2020, as an added layer to protect the mucous membranes of your eyes, are even more useless for the prevention of viral spread, especially if used alone in lieu of a mask (which is generally not recommended26).

Florida Atlantic University's College of Engineering and Computer Science video above provides a qualitative visualization of how masks with valves and face shields perform. As reported by Florida Atlantic University news desk:27

"Widespread public use of these alternatives to regular masks could potentially have an adverse effect on mitigation efforts. For the study,28 just published in the journal Physics of Fluids, researchers employed flow visualization in a laboratory setting using a laser light sheet and a mixture of distilled water and glycerin to generate the synthetic fog that made up the content of a cough-jet.

They visualized droplets expelled from a mannequin's mouth while simulating coughing and sneezing. By placing a plastic face shield and an N95-rated face mask with a valve, they were able to map out the paths of droplets and demonstrate how they performed.

Results of the study show that although face shields block the initial forward motion of the jet, the expelled droplets move around the visor with relative ease and spread out over a large area depending on light ambient disturbances.

Visualizations for the face mask equipped with an exhalation port indicate that a large number of droplets pass through the exhale valve unfiltered, which significantly reduces its effectiveness as a means of source control."

In related news, a Japanese simulation study found "nearly 100% of airborne droplets less than 5 micrometers in size escaped through the shields" and "about half of larger droplets measuring 50 micrometers found their way into the air," The Guardian reports.29,30

Why Did CDC Delete Aerosol Transmission Notice?

Interestingly, Friday September 18, 2020, the CDC posted updated COVID-19 guidance on its "How COVID-19 Spreads" page that, for the first time, mentioned aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, saying "this is thought to be the main way the virus spreads."31

It also noted that aerosolized viruses can travel farther than 6 feet — which is logical seeing how aerosolized viruses can remain suspended in the air for hours — and that "indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk."32 However, the CDC then deleted the mention of aerosols and the possibility of spread beyond 6 feet the following Monday, September 21, saying a draft version of proposed changes had been posted "in error."33,34,35,36

As reported by Forbes:37

"Before Friday's update, the CDC said large respiratory droplets (like from coughing or sneezing) at close range transmitted the virus, but now the now-deleted guidance added that 'small particles, such as those in aerosols' could infect people.

'There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet,' the now-removed guidance stated … Scientists say the new CDC guidance is important because cloth masks aren't designed to protect the wearer from aerosols."

The last sentence is a key one. Understanding that SARS-CoV-2 is aerosolized and can remain suspended in air "is important because cloth masks aren't designed to protect the wearer from aerosols." Masks also, of course, cannot protect others from aerosolized viruses exhaled by someone wearing a mask (or face shield).

SARS-CoV-2 Is Airborne, Which Makes Masks Ineffective

According to NBC News,38 that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne is "already well-known, according to infectious disease experts," so it's unclear why the CDC would not want that information on its website. In fact, it's been remarkably slow in acknowledging it.

One has to wonder whether its delayed acknowledgment and rapid removal of this information has something to do with the fact that, if SARS-CoV-2 spreads primarily via aerosols, then requiring people to wear masks is illogical, seeing how they cannot filter out airborne viruses. All a mask can do is limit the spread of contaminated respiratory droplets. This has been the argument against mask wearing all along.

Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told NBC News that the admission that SARS-CoV-2 is aerosolized was "not surprising or jarring."39 The World Health Organization updated its COVID-19 guidance back in July to include aerosolized (i.e., airborne) transmission, at the urging of more than 200 scientists.40

Joseph Allen, an associate professor in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, also told NBC News that "The scientific community has been raising the alarm about this since February, that airborne spread can happen."41 Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the school of public health at Brown University, commented on the CDC's deletion:42

"This is so destructive to this incredibly wonderful agency that we have loved and admired our entire careers. This is amateur hour."

Why Are They so Persistent With Mask Recommendations?

Considering the strong scientific evidence against it, why are governments so persistent in their recommendation of mask wearing? Clearly, for many, wearing a bandana or cloth mask provides a form of psychological defense, a way to feel less fearful because it feels like you're doing something to protect yourself and others. But it's a false sense of security.

Masks will not prevent you from exhaling or inhaling the aerosolized virus. Cloth masks are clearly also the least preferable option if you want to reduce the spread of infection, as their ability to block larger respiratory droplets is also limited.

In particular, N95 masks with airflow valves on the front should be avoided, as the valve lets out unfiltered air, thus negating the small benefit — the reduction in respiratory droplet emissions — you might get from a mask.43

But with COVID-19 fatality rates44,45,46 as low as they are, why would governments be pushing for a false sense of security? According to a September 2, 2020, study47 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the overall noninstitutionalized COVID-19 fatality ratio is 0.26%. For those younger than 40, the infection fatality ratio is 0.01%, while those aged 60 or older have a fatality ratio of 1.71%.

The estimated infection fatality rate for seasonal influenza listed in this paper is 0.8%. So, the only people for whom SARS-CoV-2 infection is more dangerous than influenza is those over the age of 60.

Mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns and business shut-downs are clearly completely unnecessary at this point, unless your goal is to increase fear, tyranny and transfer of wealth to the upper 0.001% who can benefit from collapsing the economy. The virus is in the air all around us, so you cannot avoid exposure even with a mask or face shield.

Remember back in March 2020 when they said we just need to slow down the rate of infection to avoid overcrowding hospitals? How did we go from that to now having to wear masks everywhere until every trace of the virus has been eliminated, even though a vast majority remain asymptomatic and don't even know they have the virus unless they get tested?

Overall, it seems mask requirements are being used as a psychological manipulation tool to encourage compliance with vaccination once a vaccine becomes available. It can also be viewed as a badge of submission to tyranny. I predict it is likely that, at some point in the future, a tradeoff will be offered: Mask mandates will be dropped provided everyone gets vaccinated.

By then, many may be willing to take just about anything as long as they don't have to wear a mask anymore — although some, like Offit, warn that masks may remain a requirement for years to come, even with a vaccine.

I would encourage you to read up on the many open questions relating to fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccines before making your decision. Overall, it seems the best way to avoid having to make such a devious trade is to engage in civil disobedience now, and go unmasked.

If civil disobedience feels disconcerting, keep in mind that in many areas, mask rules include the following exception: "You must wear a mask unless you can maintain a 6-foot distance." In other words, if you're without a mask and maintain 6-foot social distancing, you're still in compliance with the rules as written.

+ Sources and References

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