To the Editor,
Bethlehem Town Supervisor David VanLuven’s recent message to the town on Covid-19 offered ascientific, evidence-free claims that mask wearing and social distancing have resulted in relatively low infection rates among town residents.
On the contrary, as data emerges and events unfold from around the world, little to no evidence points to lockdowns having been effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, let alone that the scientifically dubious acts of mask wearing and most social distancing, that beyond large indoor gatherings, has been responsible for limiting spread. The New England Journal of Medicine, in the most blunt terms has said, “The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is minimal.” And called the “desire for widespread masking a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the virus.”
Considering the general tone of coverage in the media, and a wholly disheartening lack of candor and leadership from every level of government during this time, that anxiety is understandable. However, it does our society and, in this case, our town no benefit to continue to mislead and ill inform on a matter of such importance and angst.
Editor’s note: The above letter cites from a perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 1, 2020 titled “Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era.” Within the article the authors discredit the merits of masking as a singular tool against the spread of coronavirus. However, it also states, “masks are visible reminders of an otherwise invisible yet widely prevalent pathogen and may remind people of the importance of social distancing and other infection-control measures.” The practice of social distancing dates back to the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the CDC continues to suggest it as a prudent tool against the virus’ spread.