As Covid cases skyrocket in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he now "regrets" banning school mask mandate

Originally published at: As Covid cases skyrocket in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he now "regrets" banning school mask mandate | Boing Boing


If only people could generalize that kind of lesson.


That is a truly astounding use of passive voice. “I did nothing, it was this damnable Law that did it!”


I think what he is saying as it is now codified into law, it can’t be changed without legislative action and that can’t be done in time before for the start of school.

It’s too bad these bozos decided to fight the culture wars with their citizen’s lives, but you get why you vote for…


I’m sure the thousands of dead and permanently disabled appreciate your regrets over politicising a public health issue, Asa. Now get to the new narrative with the rest of your death cult party.


The republican strategy of throwing red meat to their base today and counting on short memories to absolve them when the pain sets in tomorrow is a really poor fit for a pandemic. Irresponsible short term gains pay their dividends in death.

Also: Christ, what an asshole.


Translation: “In hindsight, I wish someone would have stopped me from getting what I wanted.”

PS: “Don’t trust the liberal media. They’re always wrong.”


He now has “regrets”? Well, that makes it all better, then.


While I agree with all the anger about both the poor covid response measures and this infuriating, buck-passing statement, I’d point out that at this point the data is clear than typical masks worn by normal people slow transmission of covid by about factor of four if both parties are wearing them correctly at the time. For older variants, that meant increasing typical exposure time needed for infection from about 15 minutes to about an hour. For students sitting in the same classroom all day, every day, or for coworkers sitting near each other in the same office, the effect is and was always going to be small. For much-more-infectious delta, the effect should be even smaller.

At a population level, state-by-state comparisons show, in aggregate, that mask mandates have had on the order of a <1% slowing of transmission (which over a year added up to ~20% fewer cases). Again, that was for the less infectious variants we had last year, and mostly relevant for transmission through shorter-term contact between individuals. Masks are useful in public indoor places, but if having in-person school is too unsafe without masks to be acceptable, then it is also almost exactly as unsafe with masks.

This is not a policy recommendation or endorsement of any kind, and I understand that most people are unwilling to even consider doing a sober assessment of the relative harms of exposing children to covid vs. losing another year of education vs. imposing huge costs on families from closing schools. Our leaders much prefer useless rhetoric about being unwilling to harm kids, while actually completely ignoring the tradeoffs they are making between different harms they haven’t actually bothered to quantify.


Not saying you’re wrong but you make a number of claims in your post without citing the studies or data they’re based on. When making specific claims like this, linking to the source is always appreciated.


Call the legislature back iinto session, and repeal the ban, then.


“Regret” won’t bring back the dead.


“Man doused in gasoline regrets lighting series of matches…”

“Everything has changed now”

No, it hasn’t, you numpty. It’s the same situation, only this is what happens when you not only fail to deal with it, but actively prevent people from dealing with it.

Party of personal responsibility my ass.

Sure, but the survivors? Totally committed!


but, but, how is he supposed to have it both ways then?!

if he wanted to overturn the ban, he’d over turn the ban with an emergency order and let the courts sort it out.


“If only there was something we could have done,” said the party that was in charge of state government from top to bottom and could do something.

Hey gov… you have emergency powers down there, don’t ya? Use them, you shit for brains.

Fuck, I’m so tired of these people.


If “hindsight’s 2020,” you’re a year late.


To start with, I recommend looking at the MIT MOOC Physics of COVID-19 Transmission. LOTS of good infor there, but specifically that’s my source for the info on how much (cloth) masks reduce transmission rate, how long it takes on average to transmit older variants to on person from one other infectious person, and how much distancing vs ventilation matters, things like that.

As for the 20% number, I think it was from commentary and analyses on this study/review of meta-analyses on mask wearing. It found that always vs. never wearing masks reduced R0 by 25%, but 1) they find no effect of mandating mask wearing vs. not, and 2) this aggregates data from healthcare and non-healthcare settings, and when they specifically look at “small-scale community settings” they find “For fitted surgical masks, individual results from the meta-analyses range from a 7% increase in infection risk to a 61% decrease in infection risk. The meta-analytic mean decreases in infection risk vary from 4% to 15%, with large uncertainty.” (I would expect the results for non-fitted or cloth masks to be worse or the same).

I can track down more if you like, but hopefully this provides a good starting point!


Well, that’s not very helpful data then, considering at least where I am everyone moved to surgical masks as soon as they were available en masse. And in other places (I know that for parts of Germany at least), Ffp2 (i.e. N95) masks were mandatory for a time. I can’t see why a new mask mandate wouldn’t use those policies rather than cloth masks,.which we all know now are pretty much useless without further filters.


Not sure where you are, but I was not aware of that being policy anywhere in the US, and I would be extremely surprised if Arkansas of all places made that its policy, so it is a big part of the relevant issue here.

That MIT course also provides data on surgical masks, which are about 2x more effective than cloth for each person wearing them, compared to cloth masks (extending average transmission time to up to 4 hours for indoor close contact, still not enough in a classroom or office setting). Sealed N95 masks, by reducing particle exposure by 95% for each party wearing them, should in principle reduce transmission speed by a factor of 400 compared to no masks, if always worn properly and correctly and tightly fitted, but in practice none of those assumptions is going to hold and the real-world effect, while very significant, is lower. I don’t know of any population-level study on the efficacy of N95 masks, or N95 respirators, in practice, but if you have seen any I’d love to know.