Masks or not? Doctors debate best way to get economy back to normal

Dr. Scott Bourbon: Masks 'may be doing harm to us'

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Top federal health experts and many governmental leaders are telling Americans that to get the country back to “normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone needs to wear face masks. But not all agree on the mask mandate.

Speaking to FOX Business' "WSJ at Large," Atlanta orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Bourbon explained why he was among the critics.

“The masks aren’t necessarily benign, and they may be doing harm to us,” he argued. “I think having an open discussion is important.”

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Bourbon pointed out the medical community has talked about mask-wearing with other infectious outbreaks and said no to them.

“The concept of masks is not new to doctors,” he explained. “On the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, they have a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of masks from 1946 to 2017 that basically says that masks are ineffective in preventing the transmission of influenza-like viruses. This has been kind of the accepted concept of masks. And if you go back and look at Dr. [Anthony] Fauci’s initial comments on masks, they seem to be more in line with what the scientific community was thinking about masks before the COVID-19 outbreak.”

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Bourbon is also giving the thumbs-down to the lockdowns that crippled the economy.

“The concept of these lockdowns largely came from computer programmers over objections of epidemiologists,” he says.  “And somehow this concept of ‘flattening the curve,’ which was the initial reasoning for this lockdown--  meaning we didn’t want to have so many people get sick that they overran the system--  well, that never happened and I’m wondering how this idea of flattening the curve turned into this draconian, ongoing lockdown that has absolutely no scientific basis. The science and the data tell us to open our schools and open our communities while protecting the vulnerable, which are people in their 70s and 80s with comorbid conditions."

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But Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Public Health Institute, begs to differ.  He explains that through the pandemic, doctors found masks really do work.

“The evidence on this has evolved, it’s gotten better. Obviously we’re still learning about this virus,” he notes. “But I would say at this point, with all the data and evidence it is quite clear that if people wear masks, they certainly protect others, reduce the likelihood of other people getting infected and there is some evidence --  not incredibly strong -- some evidence that they probably protect themselves as well.”

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And Jha feels to get the economy back, we NEED those masks.

"There are just two or three things, that if we do them, we’d suppress the virus, we’d get our economy back, get people back to work and we’d get kids back in school and we’re just not doing them,” he says. “We are the only country in the world that is debating masks. There’s nobody debating masks. Masks just work, we should all be wearing masks. We’re the only country that debates having more testing or less testing. It’s silly. We should have more testing. And if we did that, if we had more testing, more mask-wearing, we got rid of some indoor stuff -- no bars, no nightclubs --  we could actually get our economy going."

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He says the proof is out there already.

"This is not some theoretical, look at what’s happening in Germany, look at what’s happening in France, look what’s happening across major European countries,” he argues. “Their economies are doing much, much better.”

And he warns that if we aren’t careful, the disease will spread and we’ll have even bigger problems on our hands.

“If we say we need bars to open, let me tell you, right now, looking at the data, two-thirds to three-quarters of all public schools will be closed in the fall,” he says.

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