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Getting real about masks and tests

Getting real about masks and tests

If you are confused about the use of masks and the availability of tests, you obviously have been watching too much television news.  I have long held that reporters are the least reliable in terms of putting out accurate information in crisis situations.  If you flip channels – or even stay on one channel for the better part of a day – you will find the information reported varies widely.  That is because each reporter is only repeating — and putting on their spin – on what he or she heard from different people.

Two issues that have gotten a lot of attention in promoting protection from the COVID-19 virus are masks and tests.


At the onset of the pandemic, you heard that there was no need to wear masks in public.  You heard that only people with symptoms should wear masks. Some reports even suggested that wearing masks can actually put you at greater risk – because you need to touch your face.

It was repeatedly stated that only folks with symptoms should wear masks to protect others – under the theory that virtually any old face covering – scarf, kerchief or even a ski mask – would capture those vaporized virus-bearing droplets we emit by talking, coughing or sneezing.

People with symptoms should also wear masks at home to prevent the spread to loved ones.

They later advised that all people should wear masks any time they are out in public.  This was to cover (no pun intended) those who may have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic – and would be spreading the virus unknowingly.

Since this possibility was known early on, it is curious that universal mask-wearing was not advised or required much earlier.  Did the professional’s advice to NOT wear masks without symptoms enable the virus to spread to such an extent as we see in the United States?

Unfortunately, thanks to the scaredy-cats among us – those with unreasonable anxieties and fears – we will probably see mask-wearing become a permanent part of our culture as it already is in many Asian nations.  Oh, not as pervasive as we see it now.  But every time we hit the flu season, masks will pop up like ants at a picnic. There are already efforts by the fashion industry to incorporate mouth coverings in their haute couture.


Nowhere has the profusion of public announcements been more confusing and more misleading than the reporting on tests.  There are a political narrative and information from the medical professionals – and they are not the same by a long shot.

First, the medical.  We must keep in mind that COVID-19 is a “novel’ virus – never seen one like it before.  That means when the tsunami of infections began, there was no vaccine, no test available for widespread use.  The shortage of testing equipment and supplies was unavoidable because of the sudden overwhelming demand.  Resources are never sufficient to meet an unprecedented crisis.  But the political game of blaming everything on Trump personally has contributed to the problem.

And it takes time to produce a quality test.  You will recall that some of the initial test equipment and supplies proved to be faulty – too many false positives and false negatives.

The bigger issue was WHO should be tested.  Most medical professionals at all levels seemed to concur.  Only folks with symptoms should be tested.  That was accomplished fairly quickly. And that is how we could determine the numbers of new cases.

But then there is the media narrative predicated on a political disdain for President Trump – and a desire … nay, a continuing strategy … to remove him from office, one way or another.

The media engage in a disinformation campaign, suggesting that everyone in America should be …. needs to be …. tested.  Anything less than that was a failure on the part of the President – not governors or mayors, just the President.  By going contrary to the professional’s advice – that only those with symptoms should be tested – the media established an unrealistic expectation on the part of the public.

When Trump would say that those who NEEDED to be tested were being tested, the media would report that lots of Americans who WANTED to be tested were not being tested.  That encouraged millions of Americans – who wanted to be tested at no cost, or even if they had to pay – to complain.  However, it was never the plan – and will never be the plan – to test every person in America.

Those who want a test just to allay their personal paranoia are doing a great disservice to the battle against COVID-19 because they will be using test equipment and supplies – and the time of the tester – potentially denying a person who actually NEEDS a test.

While appropriately focusing on the healthcare and narrow needs of a very small percentage of the American population, we need to remember the basics of this disease.  The vast majority of Americans will never contract the disease.  Eighty percent of those who do will only have mild symptoms or none at all – and not require any medical intervention. The vast majority of those who have more serious issues will recover.

We really need to put it all in perspective – which is not what the 24/7 media outlets are doing with their drumbeat of hyped news and fearmongering.  This is not the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages – although a lot of people are acting like it is.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

1 Comment

  1. Mike

    As is normal with your articles, you try to blame others rather than simply stating the facts. The first segment of your article could be boiled down to one sentence ‘the trump administration changed their position on masks over time’. As for the second section on testing, you are simply glossing over the facts. The WHO developed a test for Covid-19 in January shortly after the virus was identified. The CDC opted not to use that test and instead made their own. As you pointed out, that test was faulty and had to be redone, so we had no testing capability until late-February. Even after that test was developed, strict requirements were instituted as to who could be tested, so that even today we really don’t know how many people have been infected. We should have started testing, and allowed the private sector to develop tests, as soon as we realized that there was more than one person infected in the country, given what had been seen in China regarding transmission. And today, the tests should not be in such short supply that we treat them as gold, instead we need to ramp up testing to determine how many people actually have been infected. Otherwise we will never be able to tell when we reach the so-called “herd immunity” level. So there it is, we have a testing shortage, and yes the current administration needs to take responsibility for it instead of continually attempting to deflect blame…


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