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COVID Fears Masking

Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time

July 27, 2020

The Atlantic, July 27, 2020

Derek Thompson

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to clarify that while COVID-19 spreads easily among speakers and sneezers in close encounters, touching a surface “isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” Other scientists have reached a more forceful conclusion. “Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by the science,” Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told me. He also emphasized the primacy of airborne person-to-person transmission.

By funneling our anxieties into empty cleaning rituals, we lose focus on the more common modes of COVID-19 transmission and the most crucial policies to stop this plague. “My point is not to relax, but rather to focus on what matters and what works,” Goldman said. “Masks, social distancing, and moving activities outdoors. That’s it. That’s how we protect ourselves. That’s how we beat this thing.”

By Sallie Han

Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Oneonta
Cultural, linguistic, medical anthropology; reproduction; gender; kinship; ethnography; United States. Former journalist (The Daily News, New York).

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