When there is little evidence to support the efficacy of masks being worn outside the hospital setting and evidence suggesting that wearing them for more than a few hours is potentially dangerous, why is there still any debate on whether they should be mandated? Aren't all of the decisions our public health and elected officials are making regarding COVID supposed to be based on science?
From the CDC's own journal published in May 2020:
"Here, we review the evidence base on the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures and environmental hygiene measures in non-healthcare settings and discuss their potential inclusion in pandemic plans. Although mechanistic studies [*] support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza. We similarly found limited evidence on the effectiveness of improved hygiene and environmental cleaning."
"Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids... There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza." (from pages 970-972)
"We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility..."
Excerpted from Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings---Personal Protective and Environmental Measures." Published in: "Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol.26, No. 5, May 2020.