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OP-ED: CDC's Latest Arizona Mask 'Study' Is Flawed Beyond Repair

October 13, 2020
In The News

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a “study” claiming that the imposition of mask mandates in Arizona reduced new COVID cases by 75 percent. This is just another example of the weak “science” that the CDC has spewed for months.

The piece is simply a report, not a study. And it isn’t a particularly good report. It suffers from extreme justification bias. In other words, the authors of the report had a desired outcome when they put their report together. In fact, one of the authors of the report is the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services that urged the mask mandates in the first place.

When one has been the promoter of an extremely unpopular policy program, perhaps it is natural to try and justify the stinker by claiming it had unusually positive effects. And that’s just what these writers did.

The press headlines and stories attempt to support the medical bureaucracy’s orthodoxy that masks are great. And here, the media types say, is a study that demonstrates the almost miraculous constraint on COVID spread when a society mandates that everyone wear a mask.

It is obvious that the reporters either did not read the report or deliberately suppressed some of the salient aspects of the paper. The easiest and most obvious is the presence of justification bias. How come not one story even mentions that the ADHS Director, who recommended mask mandates, is a co-author of the piece lauding her own program? Lazy reporters, or duplicitous, agenda-driven reporters.

When reading the report, one discovers that the authors are not ultimately claiming that masks caused the reduction in COVID reported cases, they are asserting that there is a meaningful correlation. That means that many other variables may also have correlated with the reduction in the detection of new cases. In short, they could not isolate any independent variables that may have caused the reduction. So, anything might have caused the reduction, including the normal Bell Curve path we have seen throughout the world.

In other words, this isn’t even a report with meaning because the authors cannot identify what caused the reduction in new cases. In fact, they can’t even make an accurate correlation when some cities, reservations, and counties had issued mask mandates before the peak of the reported new cases occurred.

What makes their analysis particularly weak is that they have admitted that the data they relied on may have been flawed. Garbage in, Garbage out. And Arizona’s data has been faulty throughout the outbreak. Their method of reporting COVID related fatalities has resulted in some days showing a death total of -1 or -2. A recent media report suggested that almost 3,000 reported hospitalizations never actually happened. Want more craziness? One of the authors of this CDC report was the bureaucrat charged with collecting the data that the authors complain about.

The authors of this report also reveal that they did not even assess whether other mitigation measures were implemented or had any effect on the reduction. How sloppy is that?

Further, they didn’t discuss the geographical nature of the spread, the age demographics, or the impact of comorbidities on the spread of the virus. They didn’t discuss the record heatwave throughout the state. Why didn’t they mention that during the height of the epidemic two of the three areas in Arizona hardest hit were on the border with Mexico, and the other was on the Navajo reservation? What were the impacts on the overall numbers that AZDHS were reporting?

During the same time period that the mask mandates were supposedly doing miraculous work— claiming a 75 percent reduction in cases due to mask mandates is frankly over the top—Arizonans were revealed to be one of the least compliant to mask mandates in the country.

One thing that determines the credibility of a study is the falsifiability of that study. In other words, can we test the conclusions of the claim of the study? The answer here is no. This is not a study. It is a report that is flawed beyond repair. Why did the CDC abet the authors in their attempt to justify a policy that is politically unpopular and scientifically dubious?

It seems like this CDC-reported paper is one of many contradictions and politically-motivated causes it has engaged in that have left many in America questioning the competency and relevancy of the CDC.