Pennsylvania’s Democrat Governor Ignores Science On Masking Kids

Pennsylvania’s Democrat Governor Ignores Science On Masking Kids

After being stripped of his emergency powers, Gov. Tom Wolf is pleading with state legislators to champion pseudo-science by mandating masks for children in schools.
Gabe Kaminsky
By

PHILADELPHIA, P.A. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf misses being drunk with power.

After the Democrat was stripped of his emergency powers by voters dissatisfied with Pennsylvania’s coronavirus response under his leadership, Wolf is pleading with state legislators to champion pseudo-science by mandating masks for children in schools. Wolf, whose powers were curbed at the ballot box in May, wrote a letter last week to Republicans in the state Senate urging them to pass a law requiring all child-care centers and K-12 schools to require masks.

The governor claimed he has witnessed an “outpouring of calls from parents, teachers, pediatricians and others” in support of such legislation. He also claimed “misinformation is being spread” that has resulted in the political “inaction” of districts to align with his worldview.

Wolf’s letter comes amid Democrat lawmakers reinstituting COVID restrictions in response to the spread of the delta variant in the United States. Despite their extremely low-risk profile, schools have emerged as a primary target.

Florida school districts are eying restrictions after a judge ruled Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority by banning mask mandates. On her first day as governor after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, New York’s Kathy Hochul demanded health officials implement a mask mandate in both private and public schools. Massachusetts voted to require masks in all K-12 schools this upcoming school year.

Scientific evidence does not support masking children. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins admitted this in an August interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Collins said there is no clear data “showing that those kids are at greater risk of hospitalization or illness of serious sort from taking their mask off there.” He also admitted it is “rare” for kids to contract COVID whether masked or not, prior to still supporting child masking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has certainly flip-flopped perpetually throughout the pandemic, but the agency released a comprehensive study recently that underscores why forcing kids to mask up is a scientifically indefensible decision.

In examining more than 90,000 Georgia elementary school students from 169 schools last year, the CDC’s month-long study showed schools that required face-coverings and other restrictions had no “statistically significant” difference in transmission from those without. It was the first study of its kind. Other studies with contradictory findings included no comparison group.

“[This] might be attributed to higher effectiveness of masks among adults, who are at higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection but might also result from differences in mask-wearing behavior among students in schools with optional requirements,” the CDC noted.

Oddly missing from the study’s summary was the above vital item. Speaking to New York Magazine, Vinay Prasad, a University of California, San Francisco professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, noted, “That a masking requirement of students failed to show independent benefit is a finding of consequence and great interest” and “It should have been included in the summary.”

It was not long after the study was published that the CDC went on to recommend in its July 9 school guidance that kids two and up who have not been given experimental COVID jabs mask up indoors. The agency adjusted its position even more radically after the American Academy of Pediatrics claimed all individuals two and up—vaccinated or not—should wear a face-covering.

“The science is clear,” Wolf wrote to state Republicans, “that masks reduce virus transmission and that they, along with our vaccination efforts, give us the best chance to keep our classrooms and child care centers open instead of having them shut down due to COVID infections among Pennsylvania’s children.”

He’s just plain wrong. Kids are at extremely low risk from COVID, and those who experience serious symptoms almost all have serious preexisting conditions. A Lancet study published in August that examined 1,700 symptomatic kids found headache and fatigue were the most common symptoms. It also found 75 percent of kids shed these symptoms after a week or less, with six days being the average time span.

Individual case studies have proved valuable in looking at children and COVID. An April study in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics astoundingly found that, among 90,000 staff and students in North Carolina, there were only 32 cases of “probable” transmission in school in a nine-week span. 666 child care centers in Rhode Island—which included 18,000 kids total —were found last summer to only relate to four possible in-center transmissions.

Researchers across the world have also found that masks damage schoolchildren’s physical, psychological, and behavioral health. German researchers found more than half of parents reported kids struggling to concentrate and getting headaches from masks. Unhappiness, impaired learning, malaise, fatigue, drowsiness, and reluctance to attend school were described by more than one-third of parents. It was this study that caused a court to order schools to end mask mandates.

As The Federalist noted in July, an American Medical Association journal report found mask-wearing led to kids 6 to 17 inhaling unhealthy doses of carbon dioxide. Writing in The Wall Street Journal last month, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Professor Dr. Marty Makary and Tufts Children’s Hospital Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases H. Cody Dr. Meissner described this phenomenon and more. The physicians affirmed that research at best shows “inconclusive” data about whether masking reduces the chances of kids getting COVID, but also that face coverings can lead to psychological issues.

“The possible psychological harm of widespread masking is an even greater worry,” the doctors wrote. “Facial expressions are integral to human connection, particularly for young children, who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness. Covering a child’s face mutes these nonverbal forms of communication and can result in robotic and emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression.”

All of this information is available to Wolf, who has a notably poor COVID record. His lockdowns led to the Commonwealth having the most small-business closures in the country at one point. While Pennsylvania Republicans unveiled a probe into Wolf’s move to send COVID positive seniors back to nursing homes, President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice let the governor off the hook.

Kathy Barnette, a Republican candidate for Senate in the Commonwealth, told The Federalist Wolf is once more seeking to use COVID for poor policy ends, while neglecting past failures.

“This is just another example of Governor Wolf trying to become King Wolf,” Barnette said. “He pretends he’s worried about COVID by imposing mask mandates but refuses to take responsibility for the thousands of nursing home deaths caused directly by his bad decisions.”

Shortly after Wolf’s plea to lawmakers, Republicans pushed back. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and House Speaker Bryan Cutler called out the governor in a letter of their own for contradicting his prior stance on mandates. Indeed, the Democrat said in early August that “school districts in Pennsylvania have to decide what they want to do” and that he wouldn’t be mandating school masks.

“The rise in new cases within the state and across the country is a clear reminder that we must always be vigilant,” Corman and Cutler wrote. “However, the impact is not equal everywhere. That is why we continue to believe it is the best interest of local communities and their healthcare leaders to make their own mitigation decisions with support from the state, which includes clear and specific data upon which to make the best choices.”

Gabe Kaminsky is a senior contributor to The Federalist. His writing has appeared in RealClearPolitics, The American Conservative, the American Mind, the New York Post, and other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Gabe__Kaminsky and email tips to [email protected]

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