Re: 'Unmask the dangers of face masks' [Village News, Veltmeyer Letter, 5/28/20]
Are masks effective? Or are masks just a bother?
Last updated 7/3/2020 at 1:48am
Are masks effective? Or are masks just a bother?
Let’s start by acknowledging the power inherent in this popular publication – especially in what gets submitted and published in the “Opinion” section, including letters to the editor and the editorials.
A letter that I wrote appeared in the April 16 edition, entitled “Virus detection and prevention.” I took advantage of the opportunity to help fellow residents reduce the transmission of COVID-19 amongst ourselves by explaining how two things: wearing face masks and hand-washing, properly done, prevent infection by keeping contaminated fingers from passing viral particles to one’s nose or mouth and vice versa.
Was that information helpful? I submit that there is evidence that the residents of Fallbrook, a large fraction of which read my letter, did in fact reduce the infection rate shortly after the letter was published.
Two weeks later, April 30, Fallbrook’s ZIP code was reported to have the second lowest number (26.9) of confirmed virus cases per 100 thousand population in the entire county. On that day, Fallbrook had 13 cases, compared to 3,564 cases in the county as a whole. Two days later, Fallbrook moved into first place as having the healthiest ZIP code in the county.
In the May 28 issue of this paper, citing data from two days earlier, May 26, Will Fritz reported, “Fallbrook is back in second place for the lowest number of infections.”
Other data from that report include the number of confirmed virus cases in San Diego County as a whole, and in the 92028 ZIP code: 6,797 and 22 respectively.
Allow me to introduce another statistic. I’ll call it the “transmission rate.” The 26-day transmission rate would be calculated by dividing the new cases confirmed during that period by the cases existing at the beginning of the period, the April 30 data, then multiplying by 100 to obtain a percentage.
For example, if each existing case infected one person in 26 days on the average, the number of cases would double, and the transmission rate would accordingly be 100%.
The 26-day transmission rate for Fallbrook was 22 minus 13 equals 9; 9 divided by 13 equals a transmission rate of 69.2%. The transmission rate for the county as a whole during the same period was 6,797 minus 3,564 which equals 3,233; 3,233 divided by 3,564 which equals 90.7%.
In the same issue, The Village News of May 28, appeared the “counterpoint” to the point I had made promoting the use of face masks. Although some very important information was revealed – poorly designed masks, which the N95 type was mentioned as an example, inhibit the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen – Dr. James Veltmeyer used outdated studies and opinions to back his assertion that except for very limited situations, wearing masks in public do not impede transmission of the virus.
For example, Veltmeyer quoted a statement made in March by the surgeon general, saying that data doesn’t show masks to be of benefit. One must wonder what the surgeon general said in April or in May. The doctor concluded, “Government (has) no legitimate authority to force you to wear any kind of face covering in public.”
A few days ago, I noticed one effect of Veltmeyer’s promotion of anarchy. I parked my car in the middle of the Major Market parking lot and walked toward the store. I counted the number of people I saw who were wearing masks and the number who were not. Even though there is a sign on the door saying masks are required, mask wearers were outnumbered seven to eight.
Another effect can be seen in the statistics. Will Fritz reported in the June 25 Village News that Fallbrook has 63 cases, and there are “just under 11,100 cases” in the county as a whole.
Subtracting from the data reported four weeks earlier reveals the number of new cases. There were 63 minus 22 which equals 41 Fallbrook residents newly infected, compared to 11,100 mins 6,797 which equals 4303 in the county as a whole. Again, dividing the number of new cases by the number of preexisting cases times 100 yields the now 28-day transmission rate.
The rate of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in Fallbrook in the four weeks since Veltmeyer's article was published is 41 divided by 22, which equals 185.5%. That percentage is almost three times the transmission rate for the same period of the county as a whole: 4,303 divided by 6,797, which is 63.3%.
What caused the big shift in rates that occurred around the end of May? Could it be attributed to the fact that the readership of The Village News is largely Fallbrook residents? Meaning that a larger portion of Fallbrook residents read and were misled by Veltmeyer’s opinion as compared to the rest of the county?
It is my opinion that Fallbrook residents can’t afford to continue to be misled. We all need to put our face masks back on.
To the good doctor: It looks to me as if you might have broken the Hippocratic oath, since Fallbrook appears to have been harmed by your article. Thanks a lot, buddy.