The New York Times Editorial “The Worst of the Global Crisis Is Ahead” of April 14, 2020 Ignores the Ready Solution: Mandatory Masks in Public

The New York Times editorial of April 14, 2020, The Worst of the Global Crisis Is Ahead, bemoans the possibility or probability that developing countries “won’t have the means to do much about the horror” of the coronavirus pandemic. That fear may well turn out to be the tragic reality of poor developing nations, but only if the simple, effective remedy of “mandatory masks in public” is not adopted.

Even after the CDC and WHO changed their mind on April 1, 2020 after months of denying the desirability of masks for all, and finally acknowledged the efficacy of “mandatory masks in public” and officially recommended them, The Times Editorial Board continues to be oblivious to the quick, simple solution for ending the pandemic and avoiding the economically suicidal policy of #StayAtHome. Its obstinacy is hard to fathom. Is it due to illogically believing masks are ineffective to block the spread of the coronavirus, or to a refusal to admit its own egregious delay in understanding the efficacy of masks? One can understand such embarrassment, but, being the most prestigious newspaper in the world, The Times is perpetrating a disservice to the nation and the rest of the world by not recommending masks in public, the only immediately effective measure to end the pandemic and avoid economic collapse.

The Times Editorial Board owes its readers an explanation for its silence regarding “mandatory masks in public”, and an apology for not contributing to the global solution of the pandemic and its devastating economic consequences by strongly recommending “mandatory masks in public”. It takes honesty and great strength of character to admit one’s mistakes. The Times Editorial Board will hopefully show that it is interested in the truth more than covering up its mistakes, particularly those which delay solutions to human suffering. Its reputation is at stake, not just for honesty, but also for acumen.

If The Times Editorial Board became a strong voice for the policy of “mandatory masks in public”, it would probably help promote and implement that enlightened policy not just in our own country, but also in the poor developing countries for which it has expressed grave concern. As the CDC and WHO have stated, even homemade triple-ply cotton masks will do the job, so the poorest nations have a ready, affordable solution at hand. The same applies to poor Americans who live in cramped homes. It is well known that many contagions happen in households. So wearing masks at home may be required for 14 days initially, to make sure no member of the family is infected. For how much longer will The Times Editorial Board remain irresponsibly silent about the advisability of “mandatory masks in public”?

© Edward Sonnino 2020

April 20, 2020

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