A New Jersey school nurse who spread misinformation and science denying claims that facial masks do not protect people against COVID-10 has been suspended. She also claimed mandating kids wear them while attending in class learning was inhumane. Erin Pein, employed by the Stafford Township school district, is now the poster child for other wing nuts who argue that no one should be forced to wear masks — calling it “a matter of personal freedom.” Nurse Pein’s supporters plan to hold a rally for her and hope her cause will become an issue in the upcoming Republican primary for GOP candidate Hirsh Singh.
“The masks unfortunately don’t prevent them from getting COVID. Because the viruses are so small, it can’t be stopped with a mask,” she said.
Obviously, science does not agree with Nurse Pein’s nor any other wing nut’s claims that masks do not helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and label such claims as “inflammatory rhetoric:’
“I’m honestly not sure why this type of misinformation is still circulating more than a year later,” remarked Stephanie Silvera, an expert on epidemiology and professor of public health at Montclair State University.
She noted that in a recent scientific review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators, masks appeared to be effective in the general population. Studies across 16 countries and six continents found that face mask use was associated with “a dramatic reduction in risk” and that the association was even stronger when looking at N95 respirators, she said.
In fact, Silvera said some mask types, such as the 3-layer cotton face coverings that are becoming more and more common, approach the performance of standard surgical masks in laboratory settings, although some mask alternatives, such as neck fleece and bandanas offer very little protection and may actually be worse than no mask at all.
“I have yet to see a study that substantiates the claim that mask wearing increases risk to the wearer of bacterial infections,” she added. “As for the claim that this is ‘child abuse,’ that seems to be inflammatory rhetoric and opinion rather than a scientifically supported position.”