In a recent hearing, New Jersey state senators argued that science does not support forcing children to wear face masks in schools to supposedly protect them from the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
New Jersey’s Democratic governor Phil Murphy lifted the state’s mask mandate in May. But the mandate requiring children to wear masks in schools remained in place. Murphy justified this by the lack of available COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12.
Science supports keeping kids mask-free
During the hearing, state senators brought in scientists who testified regarding the science behind including children in mask mandates. Healthcare professionals and parents were also brought in to talk about the impact of masks on the health and wellbeing of children.
Dr. Martin Kulldorf, a biostatistician, epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said that there is no scientific evidence supporting the benefits of children wearing masks.
He said no randomized clinical trials have been done to show that masks for children are beneficial. But there is a real-world example that shows masks for kids in schools are unnecessary.
“During the first wave [of the COVID-19 pandemic] in the spring of 2020, most large Western countries closed their schools for longer or shorter periods … The one exception was Sweden.”
Kulldorf explained that Sweden kept its schools and daycare centers open for its more than 1.8 million children aged one through 15. During this entire period, children were not forced to wear masks or social distance whenever they were in school or daycare. Children were also not required to go through regular COVID-19 testing.
The only changes to the way schools and daycare centers were run were that sick children had to be sent straight home and these facilities had to be cleaned more regularly.
“None of the 1.8 million children died [of COVID-19],” said Kulldorf. “COVID is primarily spread through adults. When children do get infected … they typically get it from an adult. And it’s very unusual to get transmission from children to adults.” Kulldorf added that the risk of COVID-19 infection for teachers is either the same or slightly lower than the average in other professions.
Because of this evidence, Kulldorf concluded that there is no purpose for children to wear masks in schools or daycare centers.
“There’s no purpose of wearing masks, either for the benefit of the children or for the benefit of teachers,” he concluded. “There’s no public health reason to do that.”
“We heard today that masks cause harm and there’s no benefit,” said Republican state Sen. Michael Doherty, one of the senators who organized the hearing. “And there’s a lot of science to back that up. It’s causing irreparable harm to our children. And the science is very clear to me.”
Governor unlikely to bring back mask mandate
While New Jersey has yet to lift its mask mandate for children, it will not be reimplementing its mask mandates for adults. Even as cities around the country, such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas, have reimplementing mask mandates in those jurisdictions, Gov. Murphy said he would not bring the mask mandate back at this time. (Related: VAX SCAM REVEALED: Los Angeles County brings back mask mandates, even for the vaccinated.)
“We’re not there yet,” said Murphy.
The question came after concerns were raised regarding New Jersey’s post-vaccine coronavirus outbreak, which features the more transmissible delta variant of COVID-19.
On Monday, July 19, public health experts said the state had reached a critical rate of transmission threshold. They argued that Murphy has the evidence to justify bringing back the mask mandate, even for fully vaccinated individuals.
“We continue to be comfortable with where we are but we watch this,” said Murphy, referring to the state’s current post-vaccine outbreak. “We watch this like a hawk and our strong, strong, strong preference is to not go back.”
Murphy blamed the post-vaccine outbreak on the state’s unvaccinated population. This is despite the fact that New Jersey is the seventh most vaccinated state in the country. As of press time, around 77.8 percent of all adults in the state have received at least one dose, and 69.2 percent of all adult residents are fully vaccinated.
Despite his current refusal to bring back the mask mandate, he warned that he would be willing to do so if the post-vaccine outbreak in the U.S. continues to get worse.
“I don’t want to go back, but if we think that’s the right public health thing to do, then that’s what the experts suggest,” said Murphy.
Learn more about the debate regarding masks in New Jersey and other states by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.