Is It Time for Full-Time Mask Mandates?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

mask mandate

Story at-a-glance

  • Despite claims of having a pandemic plan in place, and despite having conducted a global coronavirus pandemic response exercise a mere 10 weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak, planners appear to have overlooked the most important part of pandemic planning, namely researching and identifying the most effective response measures
  • Universal mask wearing, like the lockdowns, has no basis in science. On the contrary, the available scientific evidence near-conclusively shows that mask wearing does not reduce infection rates
  • Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveal 85% of COVID-19 patients had “always” or “often” worn a cloth mask or face covering in the 14 days preceding their illness
  • Despite lack of scientific support for universal mask wearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci now supports a federal mask mandate, saying “the data on masks speaks for itself”
  • The World Health Organization encourages universal cloth mask use, not because they’ve been proven to work best but rather because they encourage “cultural expression” and “offer a source of income for those able to manufacture masks within their communities”


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.

When you look at the timeline1,2 of statements about the pandemic made by government officials, public health spokespersons and media pundits who unquestioningly echo the talking points du jour, it’s a panoply of mixed messages to say the least.

This, despite former White House Coronavirus Task Force lead Dr. Anthony Fauci’s February 25, 2020, assurance that the U.S. was “reasonably well prepared” as it has had a pandemic plan in place “for years.”3

As noted in a Fox News article4 published in mid-April 2020, many of the statements have not aged well and, now, months later, the situation has hardly gotten any better.

Pandemic Planning Clearly Lacking in Key Areas

Despite claims of having a pandemic plan in place, and despite having conducted a global coronavirus pandemic response exercise a mere 10 weeks before the actual outbreak, the planners appear to have overlooked the most important part of pandemic planning, namely researching and identifying the most effective response measures.

Instead, the October 2019 “Event 201”5 pandemic preparedness exercise largely focused around how to censor “misinformation” about the pandemic and how to ensure compliance with whatever measures were dictated.

Aside from the wholly unscientific strategy of isolating healthy, productive individuals for months on end and closing the doors to small businesses while allowing shopping to continue in large box stores like Walmart, one of the most controversial pandemic response measures has been the mandating of mask wearing.

This measure, like the lockdowns, actually has no basis in science. On the contrary, the available scientific evidence near-conclusively shows that mask wearing does not prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Most studies have focused on influenza, and the results from such studies are more than sufficient since coronaviruses are about half the size of flu viruses. Hence, if a mask cannot prevent the spread of influenza, it’s illogical to assume they can prevent the spread of a much smaller virus, especially if it’s airborne.

Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data6,7,8 seem to confirm this, as 71% of COVID-19 patients reported “always” wearing a cloth mask or face covering in the 14 days preceding their illness; 14% reported having worn a mask “often.”

Despite the dearth of scientific support — and despite the dramatic decline in deaths and improved treatments — many areas are now starting to insist on more stringent measures than were implemented during the height of the pandemic. Rather than moving forward, we seem to be moving backward. The obvious question is why?

Fauci’s Mixed Messages

Fauci has been a prominent public leader for the coronavirus response in the U.S., but his flip-flopping on issues have done little to guide the nation toward a resolution of the pandemic. This is particularly true when it comes to mask wearing.

In a 60 Minute COVID-19 segment aired March 8, 2020,9 Fauci said masks are “important for someone who is infected to prevent them from infecting someone else,” but that “right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks; there’s no reason to walk around with a mask.”

He also noted that “when you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask may make you feel a little bit better, and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.” He also pointed out there are unintended consequences of mask wearing that can increase your infection risk, things like touching your mask and then touching your face.

Overall, his message in March was that masks should be reserved for health care professionals. A couple weeks later, in early April 2020, he suddenly did a radical about-face and changed his messaging, urging people to wear cloth masks in public unless they could maintain a 6-foot distance from others.10

Mid-June 2020, when pressed about his turnabout on masks, he stated11 he’d initially downplayed the benefits of face masks due to concerns about personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. The clear subtext was “I lied to you because I thought it was for the greater good.” If he is willing to lie about this, how can he possibly be trusted about other recommendations?

In March, he accurately confirmed that masks are ineffective and offer a false sense of security. Then, when he did recommend mask wearing, he recommended wearing the least effective mask alternative — cloth masks, for which there are no standards at all.

At the end of July 2020 — just days after getting caught at a baseball game with his mask pulled below his chin12 — Fauci started recommending the addition of face shields to protect the mucous membranes of your eyes.13 Then, October 23, 2020, he suddenly announced his support for a federal mask mandate to ensure nationwide compliance.14

Why? Not only has the science not changed — it still shows masks do not decrease infection rates — but a federal mandate also fails to take into account the level of threat in individual states or cities. What’s more, in a September 15, 2020, press conference, he stated that “a national mandate probably would not work.”15

Some areas have and are doing quite well in terms of infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths. Why should people in those areas be forced to wear masks even in the absence of a significant threat? (And that’s supposing masks worked in the first place.) As reported by CNN October 23, 2020:16

“’If people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,’ the leading infectious disease expert told CNN’s Erin Burnett Friday … Mask mandates may be tricky to enforce, but it might be time to call for them, Fauci said.

‘There's going to be a difficulty enforcing it, but if everyone agrees that this is something that's important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and says, you know, we're going to mandate it but let's just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,’ he said.

As cooler weather comes, people need to ‘double down’ on measures that work, Fauci said. ‘Universal mask wearing’ is one, he said, as is keeping a distance from others and frequent hand washing.”

Mask Wearing — A Measure That Works?

Ironically, Fauci has stated that “the data on face masks speaks for itself.”17 Now, if we were all to agree that the data does speak for itself, then there would be no mask mandates because the data clearly do NOT support this measure for the public at large.

As noted by Denis Rancourt, Ph.D., a former full professor of physics and researcher with the Ontario Civil Liberties Association in Canada, all of the well-designed studies that have been published so far have failed to find a statistically significant advantage to wearing a mask versus not wearing one.

Even research published in the CDC’s own journal found no significant effect of face masks on the transmission of influenza, and research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2020 noted that:18

“We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to COVID-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic COVID-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes).

The chance of catching COVID-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic …

It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals.

Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask …”

Type of Mask Matters

According to Fauci, a slow-motion video (above) of an individual talking and sneezing with and without a cloth mask graphically illustrates that masks work.19

However, the devil’s in the details, and many are using cloth masks or N95-rated masks with breathing valves. As demonstrated in the video below by researchers at the Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, masks with exhalation ports allow potentially infectious droplets to pass through unfiltered.

As such, these masks do nothing to protect others if you happen to be infected with the virus. As reported by Florida Atlantic University news desk:20

“For the study,21 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 …

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.”

Despite the fact there are clear differences between N95 respirators, valved N95 masks, surgical masks, homemade cloth masks, cotton bandanas and any number of other face coverings, health officials have been strangely mum about these specifics in their mask recommendations.

Even stranger, when the type of mask is mentioned in the recommendations, it’s typically been cloth masks, which clearly provide the least reliable protection of all. The World Health Organization, for example, encourages universal cloth mask use — not because they’ve been proven to work best but rather because they encourage “cultural expression” and “offer a source of income for those able to manufacture masks within their communities.”22

If masks were in fact a key pandemic control measure, wouldn’t infection control be at the top of the list? As it stands, infection control is nowhere on the list of justifications for universal mask use given by the WHO.23

Many Experts Have Noted Lack of Scientific Justification

Quite a few experts in various fields have now spoken out about the lack of evidence to support universal mask mandates. Among the latest is Stanley Young, Ph.D., an applied statistician who currently serves on the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific advisory board. In an October 14, 2020, article, he writes:24

“Dr. Mandy Cohen has told us we must wear masks in many kinds of settings. She told us that wearing the masks will help ‘fight’… SARS-CoV-2. Gov. Cooper has told us they are relying on ‘data and science.’ I am a scientist. I disagree.

Not long ago, I considered the COVID data our health experts were giving us. If masks were so effective, why were we not seeing improvement in the numbers? I decided to dive into the literature ...

I studied the studies and found one for influenza. The peer-reviewed meta-analysis study looked at flu viral transmission, using 10 randomized clinical trials. When you combine all 10, the study showed that the results are consistent with pure chance.

Just how did the researcher characterize their results? ‘The evidence from RCTs suggested that the use of face masks either by infected persons or by uninfected persons does not have a substantial effect on influenza transmission …

In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.’ Adding up those infected while wearing a mask, 156/3495, 4.46%, and those infected while not wearing a mask, 161/3052, 5.23%, the results are consistent with chance.

I presented my opinion to Dr. Cohen and her staff. After some prodding, I heard from Mr. Fleischman, a senior official on Mandy’s staff. He provided me with another study that dealt specifically with the COVID-19 virus. Here is what I found. 

The study he sent was a meta-analysis that looked at transmission of the virus. A total of 19 randomized studies were summarized. Here is what they had to say, ‘Medical masks were not effective, and cloth masks even less effective.’ They also noted that ‘… respirators, if worn continually during a shift, were effective but not if worn intermittently.’

Mechanistically, masks have always only been thought to stop large droplets. Transmission through very fine droplets cannot be stopped by ordinary masks. Most recently, the CDC has confirmed that the virus can be transmitted through fine droplets.

The meta-analysis that Mr. Fleischman had sent me supports this claim because, again, it showed no benefit to wearing masks. Incidentally, the Netherlands recently dropped the mask mandate saying the research did not support wearing them …

These two studies provide no scientific basis for one size fit all; if public health officials and politicians continue with mask mandates, then informed citizens might question if current policy is intended more to scare them than follow the science.”

Journals Refuse to Publish Negative Mask Study

Perhaps most egregious of all, Danish researchers recently conducted a randomized trial in an effort to prove the usefulness of face masks against COVID-19 infection but ended up proving the opposite. They now are complaining they cannot find a publisher. Peer review journals are simply refusing to accept the paper. Why?

The controversy has been covered in a Twitter thread25 by Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter. The study,26 which is currently only available in German, concluded tens of millions of contaminations can occur each day as people use the masks inappropriately, touch their faces and neglect to wash their hands.

For this reason, universal mask wearing may actually do more harm than good. This is clearly important information that should be disseminated to the general public, yet medical journals are shunning the paper, probably because it doesn’t align with their narrative that supports universal mask recommendations.

Undisclosed Mask Dangers

There’s also evidence to suggest chronic mask wearing can have other unintended health effects. For example, another paper27,28 that has yet to undergo peer-review suggests mask fibers can pose a health risk. According to this paper:29,30

“There is no biological history of mass masking until the current era. It is important to consider possible outcomes of this society-wide experiment … Masked individuals have measurably higher inspiratory flow than non-masked individuals.

This study is of new masks removed from manufacturer packaging, as well as a laundered cloth mask, examined microscopically. Loose particulate was seen on each type of mask. Also, tight and loose fibers were seen on each type of mask.

If every foreign particle and every fiber in every facemask is always secure and not detachable by airflow, then there should be no risk of inhalation of such particles and fibers.

However, if even a small portion of mask fibers is detachable by inspiratory airflow, or if there is debris in mask manufacture or packaging or handling, then there is the possibility of not only entry of foreign material to the airways, but also entry to deep lung tissue, and potential pathological consequences of foreign bodies in the lungs …

Further concerns of macrophage response and other immune and inflammatory and fibroblast response to such inhaled particles specifically from facemasks should be the subject of more research.

If widespread masking continues, then the potential for inhaling mask fibers and environmental and biological debris continues on a daily basis for hundreds of millions of people. This should be alarming for physicians and epidemiologists knowledgeable in occupational hazards.”

Another potential concern is related to the plastics used. For example, surgical masks are made of polypropylene,31 a known asthma trigger.32 If you have asthma, wearing a surgical mask could potentially worsen your condition.

“Mask mouth” — tooth decay, gum line recession and potent bad breath — is another effect dentists around the world have raised alarm about. Dr. Rob Ramondi, a dentist and cofounder of One Manhattan Dental told the New York Post:33

“We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before. About 50% of our patients are being impacted by this, [so] we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’ …”

Other common complaints associated with extensive mask wearing include fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and anxiety,34 likely due to hypoxia (reduced blood oxygenation).35

According to Dr. Russel Blaylock, face masks “pose serious risks to the healthy,” as the mask can lead to a concentration of viruses in the nasal passages where they can “enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.”

The Mask Conundrum

So, to summarize, while face masks, overall, do not significantly reduce infection rates, N95 respirators (those without breathing valves) are the most effective in terms of blocking respiratory droplets.

However, they’re also more likely to cause hypoxia when worn for hours on end. According to Blaylock,36 “It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness.” What’s worse, hypoxia is also associated with impairment of immune function.

“Studies have shown that hypoxia can inhibit the type of main immune cells used to fight viral infections called the CD4+ T-lymphocyte. This occurs because the hypoxia increases the level of a compound called hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), which inhibits T-lymphocytes and stimulates a powerful immune inhibitor cell called the Tregs.

This sets the stage for contracting any infection, including COVID-19 and making the consequences of that infection much graver. In essence, your mask may very well put you at an increased risk of infections and if so, having a much worse outcome,” Blaylock writes.37

On the other hand, cloth masks and other types of homemade cloth facial coverings, which are most often recommended for the general public, are also the most useless in terms of infection control. So, what gives?

Consider Peaceful Civil Disobedience

Clearly, most people are being bombarded with mainstream media propaganda that seeks to convince you that masks are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So, it is entirely understandable that you would want everyone to wear masks because you believe they will save lives.

However, if you carefully evaluate the evidence, independent of the mainstream narrative, it is likely you will conclude that this recommendation has nothing to do with decreasing the spread of the virus but more to indoctrinate you into submission.

Most objections to mask-wearing requirements are not to the masks themselves, but to the mandate, and well-documented consequences such as oxygen deprivation should give anybody pause when considering a legal requirement of wearing masks in public.

We already see that most people wear masks in public regardless of mandates.38 But it is entirely irresponsible and unethical for governments to mandate such a practice on anybody.

In my interview with Patrick Wood, he provides compelling evidence that this has been a carefully crafted technocratic strategy that has been in place for the last 50 years or so. By submitting to these orders, we are likely setting the stage for inevitable mandatory vaccinations.

With COVID-19 fatality rates39,40,41 as low as they are, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns and business shut-downs are not only ineffective and unnecessary, but these measures are also contributing to a global economic collapse. It appears the only justification for this strategy is to increase fear, tyranny and transfer of wealth to the upper 0.00001%.

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?

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.

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.


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