The science suggests that more states should consider rescinding them.
Joe Biden has counted on face masks to control the Covid-19 pandemic. On his first day in office, the president issued an executive order requiring masks on federal property and called for their widespread use for 100 days. More recently, the Centers for Disease Control has mandated masks on airplanes and mass transit, though most airlines and transit systems already require them.
These recommendations mark the latest step in a thorough reversal of the pre-pandemic public-health consensus that masks are useless or counterproductive. Yet the evidence underlying this reversal turns out to be quite weak. Widespread use of masks throughout the United States and Europe has failed to stop massive pandemic waves in the fall and winter. Preliminary signs also suggest that mask mandates may be causing considerable harm. Several state governments have recently rescinded their mask mandates, and a look at the science suggests that more should consider following.