VIDEO: John Stossel discusses film Climate Hustle 2

John Stossel posted a great video with extensive excerpts from CFACT’s feature move Climate Hustle 2: Rise of the Climate Monarchy.

Watch Stossel:

Stossel interviews CFACT’s Marc Morano and asks him about the climate campaign’s insatiable appetite for power.

Stossel: Your movie suggests this world government conspiracy, that they want to rule us. But I think they are genuinely concerned and they want to save us. 
Morano: Their vision of saving us is putting them in charge. 
Stossel: And if they’re in charge says the movie, they will destroy capitalism.
Guardian columnist George Monbiot: We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.

The opponents of free markets and free minds have long seized upon climate change to boost their radical agenda.  Climate Hustle 2 presents an ironclad case.

John Stossel did a great job on his video.  There’s much more, take a look.

Yesterday’s Washington Times called CFACT’s Climate Depot, the website Marc Morano manages, “an astute website which tracks climate, political and culture-related aberrations around the world.”

CFACT continually educates the public with news, commentary and analysis.  We’re proud to have created this latest feature film.

Have you watched Climate Hustle 2 yet?

©CFACT. All rights reserved.

Massive Danish Mask Study Finds MASKS INEFFECTIVE



Observational evidence suggests that mask wearing mitigates transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is uncertain if this observed association arises through protection of uninfected wearers (protective effect), via reduced transmission from infected mask wearers (source control), or both.


To assess whether recommending surgical mask use outside the home reduces wearers’ risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in a setting where masks were uncommon and not among recommended public health measures.


Randomized controlled trial (DANMASK-19 [Danish Study to Assess Face Masks for the Protection Against COVID-19 Infection]). ( NCT04337541)


Denmark, April and May 2020.


Adults spending more than 3 hours per day outside the home without occupational mask use.


Encouragement to follow social distancing measures for coronavirus disease 2019, plus either no mask recommendation or a recommendation to wear a mask when outside the home among other persons together with a supply of 50 surgical masks and instructions for proper use.


The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 infection in the mask wearer at 1 month by antibody testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or hospital diagnosis. The secondary outcome was PCR positivity for other respiratory viruses.


A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear masks, and 2994 were assigned to control; 4862 completed the study. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). The between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (95% CI, −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio, 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33). Multiple imputation accounting for loss to follow-up yielded similar results. Although the difference observed was not statistically significant, the 95% CIs are compatible with a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection.


Inconclusive results, missing data, variable adherence, patient-reported findings on home tests, no blinding, and no assessment of whether masks could decrease disease transmission from mask wearers to others.


The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.

Primary Funding Source:

The Salling Foundations.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected more than 54 million persons (12). Measures to impede transmission in health care and community settings are essential (3). The virus is transmitted person-to-person, primarily through the mouth, nose, or eyes via respiratory droplets, aerosols, or fomites (45). It can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours (6), and touching a contaminated surface followed by face touching is another possible route of transmission (7). Face masks are a plausible means to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses by minimizing the risk that respiratory droplets will reach wearers’ nasal or oral mucosa. Face masks are also hypothesized to reduce face touching (89), but frequent face and mask touching has been reported among health care personnel (10). Observational evidence supports the efficacy of face masks in health care settings (1112) and as source control in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses (13).

An increasing number of localities recommend masks in community settings on the basis of this observational evidence, but recommendations vary and controversy exists (14). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (15) strongly recommend that persons with symptoms or known infection wear masks to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to others (source control) (16). However, WHO acknowledges that we lack evidence that wearing a mask protects healthy persons from SARS-CoV-2 (prevention) (17). A systematic review of observational studies reported that mask use reduced risk for SARS, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and COVID-19 by 66% overall, 70% in health care workers, and 44% in the community (12). However, surgical and cloth masks were grouped in preventive studies, and none of the 3 included non–health care studies related directly to COVID-19. Another systematic review (18) and American College of Physicians recommendations (19) concluded that evidence on mask effectiveness for respiratory infection prevention is stronger in health care than community settings.

Observational evidence suggests that mask wearing mitigates SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but whether this observed association arises because masks protect uninfected wearers (protective effect) or because transmission is reduced from infected mask wearers (source control) is uncertain. Here, we report a randomized controlled trial (20) that assessed whether a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others reduced wearers’ risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in a setting where public health measures were in effect but community mask wearing was uncommon and not recommended.


Trial Design and Oversight

DANMASK-19 (Danish Study to Assess Face Masks for the Protection Against COVID-19 Infection) was an investigator-initiated, nationwide, unblinded, randomized controlled trial ( NCT04337541). The trial protocol was registered with the Danish Data Protection Agency (P-2020-311) (Part 10 of the Supplement) and published (21). The researchers presented the protocol to the independent regional scientific ethics committee of the Capital Region of Denmark, which did not require ethics approval (H-20023709) in accordance with Danish legislation (Parts 11 and 12 of the Supplement). The trial was done in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Participants and Study Period

During the study period (3 April to 2 June 2020), Danish authorities did not recommend use of masks in the community and mask use was uncommon (<5%) outside hospitals (22). Recommended public health measures included quarantining persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection, social distancing (including in shops and public transportation, which remained open), limiting the number of persons seen, frequent hand hygiene and cleaning, and limiting visitors to hospitals and nursing homes (2324). Cafés and restaurants were closed during the study until 18 May 2020.

Eligible persons were community-dwelling adults aged 18 years or older without current or prior symptoms or diagnosis of COVID-19 who reported being outside the home among others for at least 3 hours per day and who did not wear masks during their daily work. Recruitment involved media advertisements and contacting private companies and public organizations. Interested citizens had internet access to detailed study information and to research staff for questions (Part 3 of the Supplement). At baseline, participants completed a demographic survey and provided consent for researchers to access their national registry data (Parts 4 and 5 of the Supplement). Recruitment occurred from 3 through 24 April 2020. Half of participants were randomly assigned to a group on 12 April and half on 24 April.


Participants were enrolled and data registered using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) software (25). Eligible participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to the mask or control group using a computer algorithm and were stratified by the 5 regions of Denmark (Supplement Table 1). Participants were notified of allocation by e-mail, and study packages were sent by courier (Part 7 of the Supplement). Participants in the mask group were instructed to wear a mask when outside the home during the next month. They received 50 three-layer, disposable, surgical face masks with ear loops (TYPE II EN 14683 [Abena]; filtration rate, 98%; made in China). Participants in both groups received materials and instructions for antibody testing on receipt and at 1 month. They also received materials and instructions for collecting an oropharyngeal/nasal swab sample for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at 1 month and whenever symptoms compatible with COVID-19 occurred during follow-up. If symptomatic, participants were strongly encouraged to seek medical care. They registered symptoms and results of the antibody test in the online REDCap system. Participants returned the test material by prepaid express courier.

Written instructions and instructional videos guided antibody testing, oropharyngeal/nasal swabbing, and proper use of masks (Part 8 of the Supplement), and a help line was available to participants. In accordance with WHO recommendations for health care settings at that time, participants were instructed to change the mask if outside the home for more than 8 hours. At baseline and in weekly follow-up e-mails, participants in both groups were encouraged to follow current COVID-19 recommendations from the Danish authorities.

Antibody and Viral PCR Testing

Participants tested for SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG antibodies in whole blood using a point-of-care test (Lateral Flow test [Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics]) according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and as previously described (26). After puncturing a fingertip with a lancet, they withdrew blood into a capillary tube and placed 1 drop of blood followed by 2 drops of saline in the test chamber in each of the 2 test plates (IgM and IgG). Participants reported IgM and IgG results separately as “1 line present” (negative), “2 lines present” (positive), or “I am not sure, or I could not perform the test” (treated as a negative result). Participants were categorized as seropositive if they had developed IgM, IgG, or both. The manufacturer reported that sensitivity was 90.2% and specificity 99.2%. A previously reported internal validation using 651 samples from blood donors before November 2019 and 155 patients with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection estimated a sensitivity of 82.5% (95% CI, 75.3% to 88.4%) and specificity of 99.5% (CI, 98.7% to 99.9%) (26). We (27) and others (28) have reported that oropharyngeal/nasal swab sampling for SARS-CoV-2 by participants, as opposed to health care workers, is clinically useful. Descriptions of RNA extraction, primer and probe used, reverse transcription, preamplification, and microfluidic quantitative PCR are detailed in Part 6 of the Supplement.

Data Collection

Participants received 4 follow-up surveys (Parts 4 and 5 of the Supplement) by e-mail to collect information on antibody test results, adherence to recommendations on time spent outside the home among others, development of symptoms, COVID-19 diagnosis based on PCR testing done in public hospitals, and known COVID-19 exposures.


The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 infection, defined as a positive result on an oropharyngeal/nasal swab test for SARS-CoV-2, development of a positive SARS-CoV-2 antibody test result (IgM or IgG) during the study period, or a hospital-based diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19. Secondary end points included PCR evidence of infection with other respiratory viruses (Supplement Table 2).

Sample Size Calculations

The sample size was determined to provide adequate power for assessment of the combined composite primary outcome in the intention-to-treat analysis. Authorities estimated an incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection of at least 2% during the study period. Assuming that wearing a face mask halves risk for infection, we estimated that a sample of 4636 participants would provide the trial with 80% power at a significance level of 5% (2-sided α level). Anticipating 20% loss to follow-up in this community-based study, we aimed to assign at least 6000 participants.

Statistical Analysis

Participants with a positive result on an antibody test at baseline were excluded from the analyses. We calculated CIs of proportions assuming binomial distribution (Clopper–Pearson).

The primary composite outcome (intention-to-treat) was compared between groups using the χ2 test. Odds ratios and confidence limits were calculated using logistic regression. We did a per protocol analysis that included only participants reporting complete or predominant use of face masks as instructed. A conservative sensitivity analysis assumed that participants with a positive result on an antibody test at the end of the study who had not provided antibody test results at study entrance had had a positive result at entrance. To further examine the uncertainty of loss to follow-up, we did (post hoc) 200 imputations using the R package smcfcs, version 1.4.1 (29), to impute missing values of outcome. We included sex, age, type of work, time out of home, and outcome in this calculation.

Prespecified subgroups were compared by logistic regression analysis. In a post hoc analysis, we explored whether there was a subgroup defined by a constellation of participant characteristics for which a recommendation to wear masks seemed to be effective. We included sex, age, type of work, time out of home, and outcome in this calculation.

Two-sided P values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. Analyses were done using R, version 3.6.1 (R Foundation).

Role of the Funding Source

An unrestricted grant from the Salling Foundations supported the study, and the BESTSELLER Foundation donated the Livzon tests. The funders did not influence study design, conduct, or reporting.



A total of 17 258 Danish citizens responded to recruitment, and 6024 completed the baseline survey and fulfilled eligibility criteria. The first participants (group 1; n = 2995) were randomly assigned on 12 April 2020 and were followed from 14 to 16 April through 15 May 2020. Remaining participants (group 2; n = 3029) were randomly assigned on 24 April 2020 and were followed from 2 to 4 May through 2 June 2020. A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear face masks, and 2994 were assigned not to wear face masks (Figure); 4862 participants (80.7%) completed the study. Table 1 shows baseline characteristics, which were well balanced between groups. Participants reported having spent a median of 4.5 hours per day outside the home.

Figure. Study flow diagram. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are described in the Methods section, and criteria for completion of the study are given in the Supplement. SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Table 1. Characteristics of Participants Completing the Study

Based on the lowest adherence reported in the mask group during follow-up, 46% of participants wore the mask as recommended, 47% predominantly as recommended, and 7% not as recommended.

Primary Outcome

The primary outcome occurred in 42 participants (1.8%) in the mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (CI, −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio [OR], 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33) in favor of the mask group (Supplement Figure 1). When this analysis was repeated with multiple imputation for missing data due to loss to follow-up, it yielded similar results (OR, 0.81 [CI, 0.53 to 1.23]; P = 0.32). Table 2 provides data on the components of the primary end point, which were similar between groups.

Table 2. Distribution of the Components of the Composite Primary Outcome

In a per protocol analysis that excluded participants in the mask group who reported nonadherence (7%), SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred in 40 participants (1.8%) in the mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.4 percentage point [CI, −1.2 to 0.5 percentage point]; P = 0.40) (OR, 0.84 [CI, 0.55 to 1.26]; P = 0.40). Supplement Figure 2 provides results of the prespecified subgroup analyses of the primary composite end point. No statistically significant interactions were identified.

In the preplanned sensitivity analysis, those who had a positive result on an antibody test at 1 month but had not provided antibody results at baseline were considered to have had positive results at baseline (n = 18)—that is, they were excluded from the analysis. In this analysis, the primary outcome occurred in 33 participants (1.4%) in the face mask group and 44 (1.8%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.4 percentage point [CI, −1.1 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.22) (OR, 0.77 [CI, 0.49 to 1.22]; P = 0.26).

Three post hoc (not preplanned) analyses were done. In the first, which included only participants reporting wearing face masks “exactly as instructed,” infection (the primary outcome) occurred in 22 participants (2.0%) in the face mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.2 percentage point [CI, −1.3 to 0.9 percentage point]; P = 0.82) (OR, 0.93 [CI, 0.56 to 1.54]; P = 0.78). The second post hoc analysis excluded participants who did not provide antibody test results at baseline; infection occurred in 33 participants (1.7%) in the face mask group and 44 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.4 percentage point [CI, −1.4 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.33) (OR, 0.80 [CI, 0.51 to 1.27]; P = 0.35). In the third post hoc analysis, which investigated constellations of patient characteristics, we did not find a subgroup where face masks were effective at conventional levels of statistical significance (data not shown).

A total of 52 participants in the mask group and 39 control participants reported COVID-19 in their household. Of these, 2 participants in the face mask group and 1 in the control group developed SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggesting that the source of most observed infections was outside the home. Reported symptoms did not differ between groups during the study period (Supplement Table 3).

Secondary Outcomes

In the mask group, 9 participants (0.5%) were positive for 1 or more of the 11 respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV-2, compared with 11 participants (0.6%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.1 percentage point [CI, −0.6 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.87) (OR, 0.84 [CI, 0.35 to 2.04]; P = 0.71). Positivity for any virus, including SARS-CoV-2, occurred in 9 mask participants (0.5%) versus 16 control participants (0.8%) (between-group difference, −0.3 percentage point [CI, −0.9 to 0.2 percentage point]; P = 0.26) (OR, 0.58 [CI, 0.25 to 1.31]; P = 0.19).


In this community-based, randomized controlled trial conducted in a setting where mask wearing was uncommon and was not among other recommended public health measures related to COVID-19, a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, incident SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with no mask recommendation. We designed the study to detect a reduction in infection rate from 2% to 1%. Although no statistically significant difference in SARS-CoV-2 incidence was observed, the 95% CIs are compatible with a possible 46% reduction to 23% increase in infection among mask wearers. These findings do offer evidence about the degree of protection mask wearers can anticipate in a setting where others are not wearing masks and where other public health measures, including social distancing, are in effect. The findings, however, should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in the community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections, because the trial did not test the role of masks in source control of SARS-CoV-2 infection. During the study period, authorities did not recommend face mask use outside hospital settings and mask use was rare in community settings (22). This means that study participants’ exposure was overwhelmingly to persons not wearing masks.

The observed infection rate was similar to that reported in other large Danish studies during the study period (2630). Of note, the observed incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher than we had estimated when planning a sample size that would ensure more than 80% power to detect a 50% decrease in infection. The intervention lasted only 1 month and was carried out during a period when Danish authorities recommended quarantine of diagnosed patients, physical distancing, and hand hygiene as general protective means against SARS-CoV-2 transmission (23). Cafés and restaurants were closed through 18 May, but follow-up of the second randomized group continued through 2 June.

The first randomized group was followed while the Danish society was under lockdown. Reopening occurred (18 May 2020) during follow-up of the second group of participants, but it was not reflected in the outcome because infection rates were similar between groups (Supplement Figure 2). The relative infection rate between mask wearers and those not wearing masks would most likely be affected by changes in applied protective means or in the virulence of SARS-CoV-2, whereas the rate difference between the 2 groups would probably not be affected solely by a higher—or lower—number of infected citizens.

Although we saw no statistically significant difference in presence of other respiratory viruses, the study was not sufficiently powered to draw definite conclusions about the protective effect of masks for other viral infections. Likewise, the study had limited power for any of the subgroup analyses.

The primary outcome was mainly defined by antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. This definition was chosen because the viral load of infected patients may be only transiently detectable (3132) and because approximately half of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic (3326). Masks have been hypothesized to reduce inoculum size (34) and could increase the likelihood that infected mask users are asymptomatic, but this hypothesis has been challenged (35). For these reasons, we did not rely solely on identification of SARS-CoV-2 in oropharyngeal/nasal swab samples. As mentioned in the Methods section, an internal validation study estimated that the point-of-care test has 82.5% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity (26).

The observed rate of incident SARS-CoV-2 infection was similar to what was estimated during trial design. These rates were based on thorough screening of all participants using antibody measurements combined with PCR, whereas the observed official infection rates relied solely on PCR test–based estimates during the period. In addition, authorities tested only a small subset of primarily symptomatic citizens of the entire population, yielding low incidence rates. On this basis, the infection rates we report here are not comparable with the official SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in the Danish population. The eligibility requirement of at least 3 hours of exposure to other persons outside the home would add to this difference. Between 6 April and 9 May 2020, we found a similar seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 of 1.9% (CI, 0.8% to 2.3%) in Danish blood donors using the Livzon point-of-care test and assessed by laboratory technicians (36). Testing at the end of follow-up, however, may not have captured any infections contracted during the last part of the study period, but this would have been true in both the mask and control groups and was not expected to influence the overall findings.

The face masks provided to participants were high-quality surgical masks with a filtration rate of 98% (37). A published meta-analysis found no statistically significant difference in preventing influenza in health care workers between respirators (N95 [American standard] or FFP2 [European standard]) and surgical face masks (38). Adherence to mask use may be higher than observed in this study in settings where mask use is common. Some mask group participants (14%) reported adverse reactions from other citizens (Supplement Table 4). Although adherence may influence the protective effect of masks, sensitivity analyses had similar results across reported adherence.

How SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted—via respiratory droplets, aerosols, or (to a lesser extent) fomites—is not firmly established. Droplets are larger and rapidly fall to the ground, whereas aerosols are smaller (≤5 μm) and may evaporate and remain in the air for hours (39). Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may take place through multiple routes. It has been argued that for the primary route of SARS-CoV-2 spread—that is, via droplets—face masks would be considered effective, whereas masks would not be effective against spread via aerosols, which might penetrate or circumnavigate a face mask (3739). Thus, spread of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosols would at least partially explain the present findings. Lack of eye protection may also have been of importance, and use of face shields also covering the eyes (rather than face masks only) has been advocated to halt the conjunctival route of transmission (4041). We observed no statistically significant interaction between wearers and nonwearers of eyeglasses (Supplement Figure 2). Recent reports indicate that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via fomites is unusual (42), but masks may alter behavior and potentially affect fomite transmission.

The present findings are compatible with the findings of a review of randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of face masks for prevention (as personal protective equipment) against influenza virus (18). A recent meta-analysis that suggested a protective effect of face masks in the non–health care setting was based on 3 observational studies that included a total of 725 participants and focused on transmission of SARS-CoV-1 rather than SARS-CoV-2 (12). Of 725 participants, 138 (19%) were infected, so the transmission rate seems to be higher than for SARS-CoV-2. Further, these studies focused on prevention of infection in healthy mask wearers from patients with a known, diagnosed infection rather than prevention of transmission from persons in their surroundings in general. In addition, identified comparators (control participants) not wearing masks may also have missed other protective means. Recent observational studies that indicate a protective association between mandated mask use in the community and SARS-CoV-2 transmission are limited by study design and simultaneous introduction of other public health interventions (1443).

Several challenges regarding wearing disposable face masks in the community exist. These include practical aspects, such as potential incorrect wearing, reduced adherence, reduced durability of the mask depending on type of mask and occupation, and weather. Such circumstances may necessitate the use of multiple face masks during the day. In our study, participants used a mean of 1.7 masks per weekday and 1.3 per weekend day (Supplement Table 4). Wearing a face mask may be physically unpleasant, and psychological barriers and other side effects have been described (44). “Face mask policing” between citizens might reinforce use of masks but may be challenging. In addition, the wearer of a face mask may change to a less cautious behavior because of a false sense of security, as pointed out by WHO (17); accordingly, our face mask group seemed less worried (Supplement Table 4), which may explain their increased willingness to wear face masks in the future (Supplement Table 5). These challenges, including costs and availability, may reduce the efficacy of face masks to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The potential benefits of a community-wide recommendation to wear masks include combined prevention and source control for symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, improved attention, and reduced potential stigmatization of persons wearing masks to prevent infection of others (17). Although masks may also have served as source control in SARS-CoV-2–infected participants, the study was not designed to determine the effectiveness of source control.

The most important limitation is that the findings are inconclusive, with CIs compatible with a 46% decrease to a 23% increase in infection. Other limitations include the following. Participants may have been more cautious and focused on hygiene than the general population; however, the observed infection rate was similar to findings of other studies in Denmark (2630). Loss to follow-up was 19%, but results of multiple imputation accounting for missing data were similar to the main results. In addition, we relied on patient-reported findings on home antibody tests, and blinding to the intervention was not possible. Finally, a randomized controlled trial provides high-level evidence for treatment effects but can be prone to reduced external validity.

Our results suggest that the recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mask wearers in a setting where social distancing and other public health measures were in effect, mask recommendations were not among those measures, and community use of masks was uncommon. Yet, the findings were inconclusive and cannot definitively exclude a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection of mask wearers in such a setting. It is important to emphasize that this trial did not address the effects of masks as source control or as protection in settings where social distancing and other public health measures are not in effect.

Reduction in release of virus from infected persons into the environment may be the mechanism for mitigation of transmission in communities where mask use is common or mandated, as noted in observational studies. Thus, these findings do not provide data on the effectiveness of widespread mask wearing in the community in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections. They do, however, offer evidence about the degree of protection mask wearers can anticipate in a setting where others are not wearing masks and where other public health measures, including social distancing, are in effect. The findings also suggest that persons should not abandon other COVID-19 safety measures regardless of the use of masks. While we await additional data to inform mask recommendations, communities must balance the seriousness of COVID-19, uncertainty about the degree of source control and protective effect, and the absence of data suggesting serious adverse effects of masks (45).

This article was published at on 18 November 2020


Asymptomatic ‘Casedemic’ Is a Perpetuation of Needless Fear

McEnany Calls New State-Level Curbs Ahead of Thanksgiving ‘Orwellian’

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

US Household Incomes Increased More in 2018 Than in the Previous 20 Years—Combined

For years, a school of economists has complained that US wages have been virtually stagnant for decades.

“Jobs are coming back, but pay isn’t. The median wage is still below where it was before the Great Recession,” former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said in 2015. “Last month, average pay actually fell.”

In fact, it’s not hard to find data showing that wages have barely increased since the 1970s, a figure many have used to stoke classy envy.

The truth is, there have always been problems with the claim that real wages (adjusted for inflation) have been stagnant for years. As economist Don Boudreaux has pointed out (see below), Reich and others overlook several important factors—including how inflation is calculated, compensation outside of wages such as healthcare, and the distinction between individuals and statistics.

The stagnant wage narrative was always mostly wrong. Federal Reserve data (which uses a chain-weighted price index) shows US hourly earnings have seen impressive growth in recent years.

Nevertheless, if one does choose to use Bureau of Labor Statistics data to measure family incomes over the last two decades, the picture is indeed a bit bleaker—at least it was.

Government statistics, which use the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation, show that from 2002 through 2015 median weekly earnings didn’t budge at all, but surged between 2018 and 2020.

I’m not the first person to notice this stunning wage growth. Writing in Bloomberg, economist Karl W. Smith describes the growth in income using a slightly different metric, real median household income.

“In 2016, real median household income was $62,898, just $257 above its level in 1999,” writes Smith. “Over the next three years it grew almost $6,000, to $68,703.”

Indeed, median household incomes increased from $64,300 to $68,700 in 2018 alone—an increase of $4,400. To put it another way, US incomes increased more in 2018 than the previous 20 years combined. (Household incomes were $61,100 in 1998 and $64,300 at the end of 2017.)

The question, of course, is why did US incomes suddenly explode after decades of tepid growth? The answer is not difficult to find.

The year 2017 saw massive deregulation and passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Estimates placed the deregulation savings at $2 trillion. But what was likely even a bigger factor was the cut businesses saw in corporate taxes.

Prior to 2017, the US had the highest corporate tax in the developed world (if not the whole world). With a top bracket of 35 percent, its corporate tax rate was higher than Communist China and socialist Venezuela.

This was a terrible policy on a number of levels. For starters, the revenue-maximizing rate of a corporate tax is 15-25 percent, which means anything above that isn’t even generating more revenue, it’s simply punitive and economically harmful. (Evidence bears this out. The United Kingdom, for example, reduced its corporate tax rate and saw revenues grow.)

Second, high corporate taxes actually hurt workers more than “Big Business.” Tax experts point out that roughly 70 percent of what businesses earn in profits gets paid to workers in the form of wages and other benefits. So it’s no surprise to see that studies show that workers bear between 50 and 100 percent of the brunt of corporate income taxes.

But the reverse is also true: cutting corporate taxes leaves companies more capital to grow and invest.

“Lower corporate taxes increase rewards for improving techniques, technology, and increasing capital investments, which increase worker productivity and earnings,” writes economist Gary Galles. “They expand rewards for risk-taking and entrepreneurship in service of consumers. They reduce the substantial distortions caused by the tax. And those changes benefit others, such as workers and consumers.”

So in 2017, when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, companies saw their tax rate fall from 35 percent to 21 percent. Just that fast, businesses suddenly had more capital to spend to grow their business, improve productivity, and hire more workers—and few things attract workers more than higher wages.

Media scoffed at the possibility that corporate tax cuts would actually result in wage increases for US workers. But the data speaks for itself: Families saw incomes increase faster than at any time in generations.

Moreover, though median wages surged, showing the benefits were broad-based, every segment benefited from these wage gains.

“The lowest quintile increased their pay more than the upper quintile,” Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist recently pointed out in a conversation with FEE’s Brad Polumbo.

To be sure, reducing the corporate tax rate wasn’t the sole factor for the surge in wages, but it was likely by far the biggest.

The surge in family incomes no doubt helped soften the impact of the economic destruction the world suffered in 2020 during the recession precipitated by economic lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether the wage gains continue may depend to some extent on the permanency of the corporate tax cut. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who appears poised to become the next US president, has signaled he’d restore the corporate tax to its 35 percent rate or raise it to 28 percent.

“Biden would make our business tax higher than China’s,” Norquist quipped. (He’s not wrong. China’s corporate tax rate stands at 25 percent.)

This appears unlikely to happen, however. Even if Biden’s claim was more than campaign rhetoric, it appears unlikely that he’ll have enough votes in the Senate to roll back the tax cuts.

Even more promising for US workers, Biden appears inclined to roll back Trump’s tariffs, which are basically taxes on Americans and imposed costs on businesses.

“When you put a tariff on steel, you make American cars not competitive anymore. You make everything made with steel less competitive,” Norquist observed. “We did a lot of damage to the American economy that way.”

If a Biden administration rolls back Trump’s tariffs while leaving the corporate tax rate in place, the US economy could build on the gains made prior to the arrival of the lockdowns.

That would be a winning formula for US workers, businesses, and the US economy.


Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times,, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Why I Wear My Mask | Welcome to the Masquerade

Video by WhatsHerFace:

I love my mask. It’s a simple and effective way to display my righteousness. Am I concerned that two children in China died because they were forced to wear a mask in gym class? NOPE! I concerned that I’m contributing to an impending socialist technocracy that will enslave the global population? NO!

Am I concerned that my mask is symbolic of my compliance to the social conditioning that will eventually lead to the forced vaccination of every man, woman, and child on planet earth? Not a chance!

Why am I not concerned you ask?

Because I decided a long time ago that shallow insignificant gestures are a much easier way to showcase my morality than actually being moral.

Because in order to be a really good person, I need to stand up to a really bad person, and I don’t like standing up to or for anything. It’s much easier to trick my mind into thinking compliance is a virtue instead of what it really is, cowardice.

©WhatsHerFace. All rights reserved.

“America’s Frontline Doctors” Should Not Be Censored

On July 27, a video that allegedly made “false coronavirus claims” was taken down by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but not before nearly 20 million people watched it.

The people in that video, led by Dr. Simone Gold, have formed a group called “America’s Frontline Doctors,” with a mission to “counter the massive disinformation campaign regarding the pandemic.” They have reestablished an online presence, on multiple platforms, although it is hard to find. Hence we have added their profile to the Winston84 directory.

The debate over the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine has now completely disappeared from mainstream discussion. But Gold’s group, all of them MDs, maintain it can be used, especially in the early stages, to effectively treat COVID-19.

The even bigger question however is why medical doctors are, for what may be the first time in history, being harassed for prescribing HCQ, and being silenced for suggesting publicly that it has theraputic value in certain situations? And perhaps even bigger than that – why are Americans being trained to relinquish their constitutional rights whenever a “health emergency” is declared?

Which brings us to another profile we’ve just added, Debbie Georgatos, host of “America Can We Talk.” In a video released on 10/27, Georgato had this to say:

“The Left is planting the seed in the minds of the American people that a health threat legitimizes and justifies taking away the freedom of the people… when there’s a crisis, it is time to surrender our liberty.”

Watch out. Because COVID-19, and the next pandemic, and genuine medical issues, are not the only sources anymore of what the Left markets as a “health crisis.” Also being developed as a crisis of public health are the “right to housing,” systemic racism, and the climate emergency.

We’re going to learn a lot and endure a lot as we make our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. But one lesson we must not forget, is that the Left is attempting to medicalize issues of public policy that have nothing to do with medicine. Don’t let them.

RELATED VIDEO: The Censored DC America’s Frontline Doctor Video | Hydroxychloroquine

EDITORS NOTE: This Winston84 column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Action Civics Is Teaching Our Kids to Protest

Many young Americans seem to have a growing disdain for our country. According to a Gallup poll, pride in our nation has declined, especially among young adults.

Young adults are taking to the streets and not merely protesting but wreaking havoc, rioting and looting, tearing down statues, and shutting down anyone who doesn’t share their perspective.

One reason this is happening is what our children are being taught in school. And that doesn’t mean only in college. We all know college campuses have become centers of radical indoctrination, but now it is happening in K-12 as well, through something called action civics, a new movement in civic education.

As educator Thomas Lindsay explains, action civics was born in 2010 when six organizations set out to redefine civic education. Dissatisfied with traditional civics, which depended on book learning, they wanted to create a new civics that was more experiential. They wanted kids to engage, get involved, get active.

When the elections end, the work begins. Learn what the election results mean for the future of America now >>

The problem is that without a solid understanding of why the Founders were so deliberate in designing our self-governing republic, with its separation of powers to prevent any one branch from becoming tyrannical, or establishing the rule of law so that we would not be subject to the whims of any one person, we risk falling into the same traps of other, less just regimes.

Indeed it is no accident that today’s protests are looking more like the French Revolution, with its guillotines and beheadings, than the American Revolution, with its debates and deliberations.

>>> To learn more about action civics, watch “How Action Civics Teaches Our Kids to Protest,” the Oct. 28 webinar featuring educator Thomas Lindsay held by The Heritage Foundation. To read his study, published in September by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, go here.

Robert Pondiscio, himself once a proponent and teacher of action civics, wrote that it has grown into “a manipulative and cynical use of children as political props in the service of causes they understand superficially, if at all.”

Indeed a study published by the National Association of Scholars found that action civics projects essentially teach students to protest for progressive political causes.

As Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, pointed out, the “new civics” is in fact a form of anti-civics. It does not teach students how our government works or, even more importantly, their critical role as citizens in a self-governing republic. Rather, it simply teaches them how to be activists.

For many today, it feels as if our country never has been more divided and the ideals of our Founders never more at risk. That is due in no small part to what is being taught in our schools.

Parents must step up and take a more active role in their children’s education, carefully watching what their children are being taught. The good news is that with the COVID-19 crisis and the prevalence of online learning, it is easier than ever before for parents to keep an eye on what is being taught to their children.

But what parents do with that information is what really matters. They must engage with schools, school boards, teachers, and principals to ensure that students are taught more than simply how to protest.


Katharine Gorka is director of the Center for Civil Society and the American Dialogue at The Heritage Foundation’s Feulner Institute.


Podcast: Can Young Adults Learn to Love the Free Market?

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I Visited DC on Eve of the Election. This Is What I Saw.

ICYMI: Hunter Biden Emails, Texts Raise Questions That Need Answers

A Note for our Readers:

When the election ends, the work begins.

Join Heritage Foundation leadership for a tele-townhall on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 2:00pm ET for an in-depth analysis into what the election results mean for the future of America.


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Discipline Suffers as San Diego Schools Adopt ‘Anti-Racism’ Grading System

Equality is out and “equity” is in.

The San Diego Unified School District has approved a change to their grading system that coincides with broader ideas of restorative justice and “anti-racism.”

They will do this by no longer letting late assignments and bad behavior in the classroom affect grades. Students also won’t be penalized for not showing up to class at all.

Only “mastery” of a subject, whatever that means, will count for grading purposes. Students will also receive a separate grade for “citizenship.”

This change was made, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, because of data showing that there are disparities between the number of white and minority students who receive “D” and “F” grades. The San Diego Tribune reported:

District data have shown that Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander high school students are significantly more likely to be given D and F grades. Black students received D or F grades 20 percent of the time and Hispanic students received them 23 percent of the time, while White students received them 7 percent of the time and Asian students received them 6 percent of the time, according to data from the first semester of the last school year. The district-wide average for D and F grades was 16 percent.

The San Diego School District’s policy change is consistent with the Obama administration’s push to crack down on racial disparities in school discipline through legal threat.

The Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded that policy, but school districts can still choose to follow the policies if they wish to.

The San Diego School District concluded that the disparity in their schools must be a product of racism, or at least insufficient “anti-racism.”

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” San Diego Unified School District Vice President Richard Barrera said to a local San Diego NBC affiliate. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”

It must be noted that the ideology of anti-racism, popularized by intellectuals like Ibram X. Kendi, is based strongly on critical race theories and other ideas once consigned to the radical fringe of college campuses.

And anti-racism, ironically enough, often looks like plain old racism, as its adherents—like Kendi—openly promote racial discrimination as a means to creating more equity.

Broad trends in behavior leading to unequal outcomes, according to the anti-racists, must inherently be a product of racism. No other explanation is acceptable.

Behavioral problems are not seen as the impediment to success. Instead, it’s the punishments for behavioral problems that are the problem.

While there may be some justification for treating late assignments and misbehavior in classrooms differently than subject grades, one wonders how better outcomes for minority students are ultimately being promoted by this change?

As Virginia Walden Ford, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, explained on a Heritage panel in 2018, breakdowns in classroom discipline creates a terrible classroom environment for children who want to learn.

Walden Ford, who was one of the black students chosen to help integrate Arkansas schools in the 1960s and is the subject of the movie “Miss Virginia,” explained how a school program she ran in Arkansas was made worse by the changes to disciple policies.

Students who wanted to learn were made to feel unsafe “because the kids that were creating a lot of the discipline problems” got “a slap on the hand” instead of real punishments.

The result is that misbehaving students kept misbehaving, and other students had a tougher time because classrooms were out of control.

This seems to be a bad way to go about helping students who are struggling in the classroom.

Teaching children that there are no consequences or minimal consequences for not showing up on time or misbehavior will probably have more negative consequences for a person later in life than a bad test score.


Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the new book, “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”  Twitter: .

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

PODCAST: COVID-19 — The Fearmongering Must End

By FRC’s Ruth Moreno

Yesterday on Washington Watch, Tony Perkins sat down with Andrew Bostom, associate professor of family medicine at Brown University, to discuss the media’s politicization of the coronavirus.

It is no secret the media wants to use the pandemic as a club to wield against President Trump and the Republican Party going into the election, and one of their favorite tactics has been fearmongering. COVID is a serious disease, of course, but evidence is now surfacing that some governments, as well as the media have focused almost exclusively on the trends and numbers that paint a negative picture rather than a more balanced, honest look at the numbers.

“There’s lots of reassuring information they could be sharing in lieu of this fearmongering,” Bostom explained.

Florida, for example, was fully opened up by the end of September, and their hospitalization rate has remained low. There has also been little increase in positive tests, suggesting the lockdowns may not have as much of an impact on the virus as Democrats want them to. Nationwide, despite the steps taken toward reopening, only about two and half percent of hospital visits are for COVID-19, leading Bostom to conclude that “the broad picture for the United States is one of reassurance.”

Good epidemiologists agree that even amidst serious health crises, one thing you should never do is make people panic. President Trump and his administration have taken necessary precautions to slow the spread of the disease while still maintaining a positive outlook, even when the president himself was infected and hospitalized.

Bostom agreed that it’s been good for the country that President Trump has kept an even keel, calling the draconian lockdowns enforced by state governors “far worse than the disease itself.” And, as stated, they don’t seem to help very much even with the virus — all they do is block transmission for a short period of time. As soon as they are lifted, the virus spreads again.

None of this has stopped the media from painting the coronavirus as a death warrant for anybody infected.

The people who are really at risk from the coronavirus are, of course, the elderly. The old and sick must be protected. But keeping healthy people from the workplace is not helping anyone, especially the vulnerable. Hospitals must be kept running, and life, for most people, must go on.

Bostom went on to discuss the unfortunate fact that some governments are hiding their numbers regarding the coronavirus, preventing us from getting the true picture of what is going on. Bostom said he was “very disappointed” in his home state of Rhode Island, which has made it very hard to know how much the state has flattened the curve regarding hospitalization rates, death rates, and even infections.

Instead, as Bostom put it, “they will take any little uptick and stick that on the front of the web page. And I think this is being done all over the country.”

The media has hidden the truth about the coronavirus from the American people, but it is not too late to expose them for their politicization and fearmongering. People deserve to know the facts amidst this crisis, and the media should be ashamed that they are putting lives and livelihoods on the line for the sake of their left-wing agenda.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC-Action podcast is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

WATCH: First Lady Melania Trump on substance abuse prevention

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and the entire Trump Administration are committed to a nationwide effort to break the hold of addiction.

“This month, we pause to remember the lives lost to addiction, and recommit to protecting all Americans—particularly our nation’s young people—from the devastating effects drugs can have on them and their loved ones,” the President wrote in his proclamation.

To fight opioid misuse, a growing epidemic when President Trump took office, the President declared a Public Health Emergency in 2017 and signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act into law. His Administration also strengthened the Drug‑Free Communities program, which offers grants to prevent youth substance abuse.

Amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, it is especially important to be aware of how prolonged isolation can affect mental health and result in the misuse of both legal and illegal substances. Through community-based efforts, the Trump Administration is strengthening the support systems that keep our young people free from drugs—including helping more school districts safely return students to the classroom.

Read the Proclamation on National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

©All rights reserved.

Four Newborns Die After Being Denied Heart Surgery because of COVID Travel Restrictions

Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a virtual laboratory for lessons in “unseen” evils that have resulted from pursuing “a present good.”

Four babies died in Adelaide, Australia over the last four weeks after being denied transport to Melbourne because of government COVID-19 restrictions, health officials say.

Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia, doesn’t offer paediatric cardiac surgery. According to local news reports, this means about 100 babies are sent interstate for treatment annually, typically to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

Because of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, however, Melbourne no longer remains an option. Patients must be sent to Sydney instead.

The distance from Adelaide to Melbourne is about 725 kilometers, a flight of roughly 75 minutes, while the distance to Sydney is about 1,375 kilometers, a flight of nearly two hours. An extra 45 minutes might not sound like a lot of time, but when you’re talking about surgery on a vital organ in a sick infant, minutes matter.

The infants never left Adelaide, news reports indicate, presumably because doctors either determined they would not survive the lengthy trip or because Sydney’s Children’s Hospital at Westmead—the lone hospital available due to travel restrictions—lacked the capacity to treat them.

Whatever the case, because of the travel restrictions and the lack of a cardiac center in Adelaide, the infants failed to receive treatment that could have saved their lives.

Dr. John Svigos, an obstetrician and gynecologist, told Australian TV network 9 News that the four babies who died in Adelaide “almost certainly” would have benefited from on-site surgery. He noted that recent state restrictions on travel inhibited the hospital’s ability to get the infants treated at other facilities.

“Particularly in our current COVID situation where the usual process of referral to the Melbourne cardiac unit is no longer tenable and referral to Sydney is on a case-by-case basis,” said Svigos, who has operated a private practice at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide since 1978. “I shall leave it to you to imagine the profound effect of these deaths on the parents, their families and the dedicated medical and nursing staff dealing with these tragedies.”

The story is tragic. It’s also frustrating, in part because we know there are countless scenarios like this happening every day around the world. It’s undeniable at this point: COVID-19 regulations designed to save people are costing lives.

The tragedy is compounded by the fact that it was so predictable. Any student of economics who has read the opening line of Bastiat’s great essay “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen” could have predicted such outcomes.

“In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects,” wrote Bastiat.

The economist explained that every action comes not with a single consequence, but many consequences. Humans tend to focus on the immediate effects of an action (the seen) while ignoring the numerous other effects that go unseen. Bastiat warned that the economist must beware pursuing “a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come.”

In other words, we must look beyond the immediate effects of an action and consider the far-reaching unintended consequences.

Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a virtual laboratory for lessons in “unseen” evils that have resulted from pursuing “a present good.” By imposing mass lockdowns and sweeping bans on travel and other basic freedoms, governments may have increased social distancing, but they did so at costs we may never fully understand (but are now just beginning to).

We see the immediate, desired effects—less travel, businesses closed or limited in capacity, more children working on laptops and not in school—but we tend to overlook the many unseen, second-order evils. These include the cancer screenings people are not getting, the 100,000 US businesses that will never reopen, the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings people cannot attend, the rise in depression as people lose jobs, the millions of people slipping into poverty and extreme poverty, the rise in suicide, and yes—infants and other people denied surgeries that could have saved them.

Each of these effects will in turn trigger countless other effects, many of which will never be seen or written about.

The effort to protect individuals from the coronavirus through government fiat instead of individual action was akin to performing heart surgery with a broadsword—clumsy, foolish, and deadly.

“How many more deaths of babies and young children will the community and staff be forced to endure?” asked Svigos.

It’s a question every person suffering under inhumane lockdowns and other draconian government restrictions should be asking.


Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times,, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Special Advisor to President Trump on Covid Policy Speaks Out

Freddie Sayers caught up with Dr. Scott Atlas, a healthcare policy academic from the Hoover Institute at Stanford, who has become the latest lightning rod for the controversy around Covid-19 policy and his support for a more targeted response.

Speaking from inside the White House, where he is now Senior advisor to the President and a member of the Coronavirus task force, he does not hold back. He tells us that he is disgusted and dismayed at the media and public policy establishment, sad that it has come to this, cynical about their intentions, and angry that lockdown policies have been allowed to go on so long.



Why him?

I’m a healthcare policy person — I have a background in medical science, but my role really is to translate medial science into public policy. That’s very different from being an epidemiologist or a virologist with a single, limited view on things.

Dr. Fauci

He’s just one person on the task force — there are several people on the task force. His background is virology, immunology and infectious disease. It’s a very different background, it’s a more limited approach, and I don’t speak for him.

Herd immunity policy?

No. It’s a repeated distortion, lie, or whatever you want to call it… What they mean by ‘herd immunity strategy’ is survival of the fittest, let the infection spread through the community and develop a population immunity. That’s never been the policy that I have advised. It’s never even been discussed inside the White House, not even for a single minute. And that’s never been the policy of the President of the United States or anybody else here. I’ve said that many many times… and yet it persists like so many other things, hence the term that the President is fond of using called fake news.

On herd immunity

Population immunity is a biological phenomenon that occurs. It’s sort of like if you’re building something in your basement: it’s down on the ground because gravity puts it there. It’s not a ‘strategy’ to say that herd immunity exists — it is obtained when a certain percentage of the population becomes resistant or immune to an infection, whether that is by getting infected or getting a vaccine or by a combination of both. In fact, if you don’t that believe herd immunity exists as a way to block the pathways to the vulnerable in an infection, then you would never advocate or believe in giving widespread vaccination — that’s the whole point of it… I’ve explained it to people who seemingly didn’t understand it; I’ve mentioned this radioactive word called herd immunity. But that’s not a strategy that anyone is pursuing.

What is his and President Trump’s policy?

My advice is exactly this. It’s a three-pronged strategy. Number one: aggressive protection of high risk individuals and the vulnerable (typically the elderly and those with co-morbidities). Number two: allocate resources so that we prevent hospital overcrowding, so that people can be treated for this virus and get the other serious medical care that is needed. Number three: open schools, society and businesses because keeping them closed is enormously harmful — in fact it kills people.

Effect of lockdowns

We must open up because we’re killing people. In the US, 46% of the six most common cancers were not diagnosed during the shutdown… These are people who will present to the hospital or their doctor with later stage disease — many of these people will die. 650,000 Americans are on chemotherapy ­— half of them didn’t come in for their chemo because they were afraid. Two-thirds of screenings for cancer were not done; half of childhood immunisations did not get done; 85% of living organ transplants did not get done. And then we see the other harms: 200,000 cases plus of child abuse in the US during the two months of spring school closures were not reported because schools are the number one agency where abuse is noticed; we have one out of four American young adults, college age, who thought of killing themselves in the month of June…

All of these harms are massive for the working class and the lower socioeconomic groups. The people who are upper class, who can work from home, the people who can sip their latte and complain that their children are underfoot or that they have to come up with extra money to hire a tutor privately — these are people who are not impacted by the lockdowns.

©UnHerd. All rights reserved.

On the Nature of Complicity

Randall Smith: In the future, will America’s bishops renounce their failure to condemn politicians who support abortion as German bishops have recently done for their former support of Nazism?

In a column last year titled “Politicizing the Eucharist?” I pointed out that no one now claims that when Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans excommunicated three Catholics for publically encouraging people to defy his order to de-segregate the Catholic schools, he was “politicizing the Eucharist.”  Rather, Rummel is now praised highly for his singular courage, especially since his condemnation was so contrary to the more “accommodating” views of many of his fellow southern Catholics.

I also mentioned Cardinal Adolf Bertram, the ex-officio head of the German episcopate in the 1930s, who ordered Church bells rung in celebration of Nazi Germany’s victories over Poland and France and who sent greetings to Hitler on his 50th birthday in the name of all German Catholics, an act that angered his fellow bishops Konrad von Preysing and August von Galen.

The subject of whether the bishops should speak out publically against the treatment of the Jews arose at a 1942 meeting of the German bishops at Fulda. The consensus was “to give up heroic action in favor of small successes.”  In the 1933 Reichskonkordat between the Holy See and the German government, Church leaders pledged to refrain from speaking out on issues not directly related to the Church.  Repeated violations of the Konkordat on the part of the government, including closing churches and church schools, did not change their minds. And it also didn’t keep bishops like Bertram from endorsing government actions they favored, such as opposition to communism and the subjugation of Poland.

If you imagine I am being too tough on these German bishops, then perhaps you should read the twenty-three-page report made public last May by Germany’s Council of Catholic Bishops in which they admitted “complicity” by their predecessors who did not do enough to oppose the rise of Nazi regime and its mistreatment of Jews.

In eighty or ninety years, will future U.S. bishops be submitting a similar document of their own, confessing the “complicity” of their predecessors who did not do enough to oppose the abortion regime?  Will Catholics of that time be as baffled about our present bishops and prominent Catholic politicians as we are about the accommodationist Catholics of Nazi Germany?

How could Catholics of that time have failed to understand the evil staring them in the face? And why did they “accommodate” a regime that had labeled Christianity, and Catholics in particular, as “enemies of the state”?  Was it perhaps because so many leaders of the regime had been raised Catholic and some were still rosary-carrying church-goers?

Who, in retrospect, would not look back in shame at a German bishop who called questioning the Catholic commitments of Catholic Nazi leaders “offensive because they constitute an assault on the meaning of what it is to be Catholic.” Because “being Catholic means loving the Church; being Catholic means participating in the sacramental life of the church; being a Catholic means trying to transform the world by the light of the Gospel”?

And yet those are the words of our own Bishop McElroy of San Diego about those who question Joe Biden’s Catholicism.

And we transform the world in the light of the Gospel how?  Is it not by opposing the killing of innocent human beings?

In retrospect, we would suspect that a bishop who had said about the treatment of Jews, as Bishop McElroy has about abortion, that “To reduce that magnificent, multidimensional gift of God’s love to a single question of public policy is repugnant and should have no place in public discourse” had little or no serious concern for the lives being lost.  “Sure, abortion is bad, but what about global warming!”  “Sure the ill-treatment of Jews is unfortunate, but what about the future of Europe!” Wouldn’t we consider that to be repugnant?

What would anyone say now about a Catholic politician as prominent as Mario Cuomo if, during the 1930s in Germany, he had said:  “I accept the Church’s teaching about Jews, but must I insist others do so?  Our public morality. . .the moral standards we maintain for everyone, not just the ones we insist on in our private lives – depends on a consensus view of right and wrong.  The values derived from religious belief will not and should not be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large by consensus.” That statement would have worked equally well for Catholic segregationists in the American South.

If that Catholic politician in 1930s Germany had available to him the “seamless garment” argument used by Mr. Cuomo, he might have said, “I grant that the treatment of Jews may have a unique significance but not a preemptive significance.”  “The Jewish question is an important issue for Catholics, but so is the question of the injustice of the reparation payments we have been forced to make along with all the resulting hunger and homelessness and joblessness, all the forces diminishing human life and threatening to destroy it.”

All the forces diminishing human life and threatening to destroy it?  Like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . abortion?

Who, in retrospect now, wouldn’t find such a “Catholic” politician either an obvious liar or a delusional hack?

If you find my comparison between the Catholics who enabled the Nazis and modern Catholics who enable abortion troubling, perhaps you should read Anne Applebaum’s article in The Atlantic titled “History Will Judge the Complicit.” Take out all the tendentious stuff about the numbers at Trump’s inauguration and a phone call with the Ukrainian ambassador and replace it with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden’s support for abortion and for policies that result in the closure of faithful Catholic institutions, and then change the title to “On the Nature of Complicity: Abortion’s Catholic Enablers and the Judgment of History.”

That judgment is unlikely to be any kinder to them than it has been to their German predecessors.


Randall Smith

Randall B. Smith is a tenured Full Professor of Theology. His book Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Guidebook for Beginners is available from Emmaus Press. And his book Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the Scholastic Culture at Paris: Preaching, Prologues, and Biblical Commentary is due out from Cambridge University Press in the fall.

EDITORS NOTE: This The Catholic Thing column is republished with permission. © 2020 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

10 Counties With Most COVID-19 Deaths Account for 22% of Fatalities but 11% of Population

As Heritage Foundation researchers have demonstrated throughout the pandemic, the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. has been heavily concentrated in a small number of states—and among a small number of counties within those states.

Heritage’s interactive graphic allows individuals to see more detail on these concentrations of COVID-19 among the counties with the most deaths as well as those with the fewest.

For instance, the graphic allows users to select data from the five counties with the most coronavirus-related deaths all the way up to the 50 counties with the most such deaths. It also allows visitors to select data from counties with zero deaths to counties with 10 deaths or fewer.

As of Oct. 12, the 10 counties with the most COVID-19 deaths account for 22.3% of all related deaths in the U.S. but only 11.2% of the population. The 30 counties with the most coronavirus deaths account for 37.4% of the related deaths in the U.S. and only 19.6% of the U.S. population.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? Learn more now >>

Three of the five counties of New York City, one of the hardest-hit areas in the early stages of the pandemic, still account for three of the five U.S. counties with the most coronavirus deaths. New York City still has a disproportionate effect on the perceived COVID-19 experience in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York City has a coronavirus death rate of 284 per 100,000; the rest of the state has a rate of 81 per 100,000. The average COVID-19 death rate for the entirety of the U.S. is roughly 65 per 100,000. (For more on how New York City skews COVID-19 data in the U.S., see this Heritage Backgrounder.)

This evidence suggests that as new locations in the U.S. experienced surges in COVID-19 cases throughout this pandemic, death rates remained lower.

Ultimately, several items could be at play, including a different, younger population being infected in many locations, such as Florida, during a surge in the disease. Additionally, better treatment and lessons learned from coping with the pandemic could be part of the lower death rates, including lessons learned in limiting exposure in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.

Although still tragic, the outlook has improved over the past month.

As of Sept. 4, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s model projected that the U.S. would have 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 by Jan. 1, 2021. But as of now, the model has lowered its worst-case scenario to 338,735 deaths by Jan. 1, with its current projection 7% lower at 316,935 deaths.

Even so, to reach that new number by Jan. 1, the average daily death rate from COVID-19 would have to be roughly 1,300. The seven- and 14-day average death rates for the U.S. have not been that high since May 20.

The worst day prior to May 20 saw an average of roughly 2,200 deaths, a figure that falls to 1,659 if New York City is excluded. The worst day since May 20 was a seven-day average of 1,215 on Aug. 1.

Now that COVID-19 testing has increased dramatically and many state and local governments have relaxed stay-at-home orders, it is even more critical to study the trends in deaths along with cases.

To make studying these trends easier, The Heritage Foundation now has two interactive COVID-19 trackers. One tracks trends in cases, the other tracks trends in deaths.

The trackers describe whether the trend of cases—or deaths—is increasing or decreasing over the prior 14 days. They also provide a visual depiction of new cases—or deaths—during this time period.

These tools help put the concentrated nature of the pandemic in perspective with county-level data. They show just how difficult it can be to use only one metric to gauge whether a county—or state—is doing well.

Readers are invited to explore the information in the tracker and check back frequently for updates, as well as to explore the other visual tools on Heritage’s COVID-19 resources page.


Drew Gonshorowski focuses his research and writing on the nation’s new health care law, including the repercussions for Medicare and Medicaid, as a policy analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. He also studies economic mobility and the Austrian school of economics.

Norbert Michel studies and writes about housing finance, including the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in financial regulations. Read his research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: How the Michigan Supreme Court Whacked Whitmer for COVID-19 Overreach

A Note for our Readers:

Democratic Socialists say, “America should be more like socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” And millions of young people believe them…

For years, “Democratic Socialists” have been growing a crop of followers that include students and young professionals. America’s future will be in their hands.

How are socialists deluding a whole generation? One of their most effective arguments is that “democratic socialism” is working in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. They claim these countries are “proof” that socialism will work for America. But they’re wrong. And it’s easy to explain why.

Our friends at The Heritage Foundation just published a new guide that provides three irrefutable facts that debunks these myths. For a limited time, they’re offering it to readers of The Daily Signal for free.

Get your free copy of “Why Democratic Socialists Can’t Legitimately Claim Sweden and Denmark as Success Stories” today and equip yourself with the facts you need to debunk these myths once and for all.


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

FLORIDA: Lee County School Board Withdraws LGBT History Resolution under Pressure

Last week the Lee County (FL) School Board planned to pass a resolution proclaiming October as LGBT History Month throughout the school district.

Florida Citizens Alliance responded by notifying the school board that the moment they approved the resolution every student in Lee County would become eligible for a Hope Scholarship. Many families believe such a resolution creates an intimidating, harassing, bullying and threatening school environment. Any one of those factors creates a Hope Scholarship qualifying incident under Florida law.

Further the Hope Scholarship law assigns the school board an affirmative duty to notify parents of their Hope Scholarship opportunities. By approving the resolution they would have created an intimidating, harassing, bullying and threatening environment for students whose parents have sincerely held convictions regarding the LGBT agenda.  The law then requires the school district to notify any and all parents that the State of Florida provides a scholarship that will help them transfer their child to a safer school environment.

Fortunately, in this case, the school board pulled the resolution from their agenda. Apparently, they did not want a massive number of students to transfer out of Lee public schools.

What remains is the Hope Scholarship.

Florida Citizens Alliance continues to remind parents that when their child encounters an intimidating, harassing, bullying or threatening school environment, that child immediately becomes eligible for a Hope Scholarship. Further the offense can originate in instructional materials, a book in the media center, an action by a school staff or faculty member, student behavior or any other source.

The Hope Scholarship is a gift to Florida parents to empower them to find a safer school environment for their children. We encourage them to know and exercise their scholarship opportunities.

Keith Flaugh
Managing Director
Florida Citizens Alliance


Florida Citizens’ Alliance, Inc. (FLCA) is a 501c (3) grassroots organization working to educate parents, families, and community influencers regarding current activities of great concern in Florida public schools.  These efforts include pursuing legislative policies that promote universal school choice, supporting knowledge-based learning, encouraging the best K-12 standards and curriculum, stopping political, religious and pornographic indoctrination and encouraging financial transparency/best practices to improve student learning.

©Florida Citizens’ Alliance, Inc. All rights reserved.

VIDEO: WHO Reverses Course, Now Advises Against Use of ‘Punishing’ Lockdowns

Even as the WHO calls on nations to refrain from imposing lockdowns, many governments continue to use this strategy.

For months, an overwhelming majority of the planet’s population has been subject to cruel and unnerving lockdowns: businesses closed, travel restricted, and social gatherings kept to a minimum.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have sunk our economies, kept loved ones apart, derailed funerals, and made personal and economic liberty a casualty as much as our health. One report states it could cost us $82 trillion globally over the next five years – roughly the same as our yearly global GDP.

Many of these initial lockdowns were justified by policy recommendations by the World Health Organization.

The WHO’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, writing in a strategy update in April, called on nations to continue lockdowns until the disease was under control.

But now, more than six months since lockdowns became a favored political tool of global governments, the WHO is calling for their swift end.

Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s Special Envoy on COVID-19, told Spectator UK’s Andrew Neil last week that politicians have been wrong in using lockdowns as the “primary control method” to combat COVID-19.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” said Nabarro.

Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, offered a similar sentiment.

“What we want to try to avoid – and sometimes it’s unavoidable and we accept that – but what we want to try and avoid is these massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else,” said Dr. Ryan, speaking at a briefing in Geneva.

RELATED ARTICLE: Income Is Determined by the Scarcity of Your Contribution, Not the Value of Human Worth

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.