by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
In June 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper added to his defiance of state emergency management law the defiance of science and common sense by forcing healthy people to wear face masks. Media, either out of sincere belief or out of desire to remain in the group allowed to participate in the governor’s remote press briefings and file questions, quickly adopted the governor’s position that the edict was necessary, scientific, and the most important way to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which happens to be a virus.
Since then, including yesterday, Cooper has either extended or tightened the face mask order 12 (twelve) times.
Just prior to leveling the face mask order the first time, Cooper’s administration, via state health bureaucrat Mandy Cohen, handed state legislators three rushed studies and the expectation that such an order would actually reduce cases and virus transmission. By then the administration was fully infatuated with the notion that they were the Virus Whisperers, able to distinguish among even the most esoteric risk levels with such confidence that they based extreme emergency orders around them.
Nevertheless, as the graph above shows, every time Cooper has extended or tightened his face mask order, the average daily case numbers have been higher than they were when he originally leveled the order.
That’s despite making it sound as if the mandate would immediately cut cases and transmission, and despite Cooper’s repeated declarations not only that “we know” masks work but that “Our statewide mask requirement has been in effect since June, and it is still our best weapon in this fight.”
Goodness, it’s even despite this brilliance from Cohen, eloquently teaching us the One True Way to prevent “major economic impacts”:
It’s wearing a mask mask mask mask mask mask. Um, right. They work, they work.
Ridiculously, Cooper’s latest extension lasts through April 30. Typical virus seasonality suggests that the next time he will extend the mask order — “he will” being a prediction based on the observation that an autocrat doesn’t voluntarily surrender illegitimately seized power — it could be the first time the seven-day rolling average of new cases would be lower than the first time he leveled the face mask order against people. At which point, he might declare that it’s working, and his media might parrot that blithering absurdity.