Now that even cities in Arizona and Florida have decided to mandate the wearing of masks, and, more importantly, now that red states are seeing explosive increases in COVID-19 infections, all sorts of rightwing thought-leaders have suddenly decided making masks a culture-war issue may have been a bad idea. On Fox News last night, Actual White House Chief of Staff Sean Hannity, who spent much of the early days of the pandemic insisting public health was fake, went full FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER on the matter of masks:

I was in the epicenter of this. I went to my grocery store every week. Guess what? They wore masks. Nobody at my grocery store, thank God, got coronavirus. I think they work. And I said — especially if I wear a mask and it opens up baseball, concerts, NFL football — I'd rather wear the mask and go to the game to protect Grandma, Grandpa, Mom and Dad and watch the ballgame.

It's not an entirely new stance for Hannity, who previously fretted about unmasked redneck kids spreading the virus, at least once it was a potential problem in red states. But this morning, "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy went so far as to suggest maybe Donald Trump Himself might want to wear a mask, not that a great man like him needs to, but maybe as an example for those who are less infallible than Dear Leader.

Doocy broached the topic while chatting with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who, having shed her familial connections to Mitt Romney, knows a thing or two about making changes for the sake of messaging. Now that the city of Jacksonville, Florida, is requiring masks be worn in public, McDaniel said she's fine with complying with city mask orders, even though the GOP moved its national convention to Jacksonville so it wouldn't have to face Democratic Health Tyranny in North Carolina.

Then Doocy suggested maybe the "president" might consider putting on a mask himself, even though he's tested all the time and obviously too good a person to ever get infected himself:

I think that if the president wore one, it would just set a good example. He'd be a good role model. I don't see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public.

McDaniel said that Trump "has done that" — like once, as we recall? — and that of course his top priority is the health and safety of his reelection the American people. Then Doocy suggested Trump could even adapt his slogan and say "MAGA should now stand for 'Masks Are Great Again' — Let me give you some marketing advice right there."

For what it's worth, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale previewed a special edition MAGAMASK a while back, but you can't find it on the campaign site, no sir, because ????

NBC Policy editor Benjy Sarlin's guess is probably on target:

Politico notes that Trump has previously ranked Doocy as "a 12" on a scale of loyalty among Fox News talkers, so perhaps the suggestion will get some traction with the Great Man, who grumbled to the Wall Street Journal that masks might actually be counterproductive in fighting the virus, because what if people touch their dirty dirty masks? It's just SCIENCE, if you define "science" as a series of rambling WTF musings:

But the mask is a double-edged sword and I see it. People come in, they're talking through the mask for hours. They probably don't clean them after, you know, they get a little cocky, right? Then they take the mask, they put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth. And then they don't know how they caught it. [...]

But think of it, they're touching it. I watch them all day long. They're playing with it. You watch some of these politicians, they start talking, they take their fingers and they put them inside the mask and they rip it down. Now their fingers are infected. Potentially. And then they touch their nose. They touch their eyes, they touch their mouth. Voila.

So people might catch the coronavirus from themselves after touching a mask they've been breathing into? WUT? Maybe we need to warn people to resist the urge to play with other people's masks? Trump also agreed that some people just wear masks to show they disapprove of him, which certainly couldn't lead anyone to make stupid decisions, and said Joe Biden looked like he "put a knapsack over his face," haw haw.

In the Senate Monday, Mitch McConnell wore a mask, and even got the science right!

Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter. [...] We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people.

Masks work. How well do they work? Hong Kong, where mask wearing was adopted nearly universally, has largely defeated the virus, as the Wall Street Journal points out, citing Dr. Yuen Kwok-Yung, who advised the local government on COVID-19 policy.

Hong Kong, with 7.5 million residents, is one of the most densely populated places on earth, but recorded only six deaths from Covid-19 despite having no lockdown and receiving nearly 350,000 travelers a day from abroad until authorities started reducing cross-border travel on January 30. Around half of the arrivals were from mainland China, where the virus originated.

The key secret of Hong Kong's success, Prof. Yuen said, is that the mask compliance rate during morning rush hour is 97%. The 3% who don't comply are mainly Americans and Europeans, he said.

"The only thing you can do is universal masking, that's what stopped it," Prof. Yuen said.

Given the increasing calls from red-state Republicans for people to wear masks, better late than never, is Trump likely to be persuaded? We aren't all that encouraged, since that same WSJ article also notes that "Male vanity also appears to be a powerful factor in rejecting masks," according to a study in the United Kingdom. But who knows? Maybe the prospect of large portions of the Republican voting base literally dying before the election will get Trump's attention, and he'll start wearing a mask soon.

We won't be the least bit surprised if he then says he's been advocating masks all along, and that he really has been wearing masks since January, only you couldn't see them because his masks are made out of the same stuff as the stealth fighter.

[Politico / New York / WSJ / WaPo / WSJ]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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