More Americans may be seen without masks this Friday.
Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, has launched a "Face Freedom" campaign that encourages people to go without a mask on Fridays.
"On Face Freedom Friday, just take a picture of you or whoever you're with without a mask and then send it around your social network with #FaceFreedom," Brase said on American Family Radio's "Sandy Rios in the Morning" program. "We need to move this country back to freedom of their faces, freedom to breathe, freedom to speak -- all of this without a barrier -- freedom to see each other's expressions, freedom to communicate."
President Trump has urged people to wear masks, and Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden has gone so far as to say he would call for a national mask mandate if he is elected.
"We'll have a national mandate to wear masks, not as a burden, but as a patriotic duty to protect one another," Biden said Thursday, August 20th, during his speech at the Democratic National Convention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also touts the importance of wearing a mask:
Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
The masks recommended here are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE). They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
According to Dr. Kevin Pham, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, a mask has its place because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is borne from your own respiration.
"So it's just common sense that if you put something in front of your respiratory organs, your mouth and your nose," he says, "then that will decrease the spread and speed of how much you can transmit this virus to someone else."
Still, Brase has her doubts about the effectiveness of masks, especially the cloth masks that many, if not most, people are wearing.
"Cloth masks have 97 percent penetration," she told the AFR Talk program. "In other words, 97 percent of things pass through the cloth mask one way and the other, whether you're breathing out or whether you're breathing in."
"There is no scientific evidence that masks help you," she asserted.
In a June commentary published at The Daily Signal, Pham also defended the use of masks but said government-mandated rules enforcing mask wearing is not helpful.
"The mask-wearing mandates are already resulting in reflexive defiance," the medical doctor wrote two months ago, "and can further undermine the already tenuous and increasingly shaky trust that public health officials hold with the public."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Dr. Kevin Pham.