July 28, 2021

It’s too late for masks alone to turn the tide on coronavirus. Why the U.S. needs to lock down hot spots right away.

Masks are necessary to combat America’s resurgent coronavirus pandemic. But at this point, they may no longer be enough.

Patterns that have emerged in countries that are faring much better than the United States suggest we won’t bring the virus to heel until we start locking down hot spots as well.

On Wednesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tweeted: “I believe if everyone, including #Millenials and #GenZ, wear[s] a cloth face covering for the next 4 to 6 weeks, we can get the #COVID19 epidemic under control.”

Redfield’s comments went viral. See? the signal boosters seemed to say. If the rest of you would just behave yourselves, this thing could be over by Labor Day.

In response, Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington who has become one of the nation’s top experts on the coronavirus, tweeted back: “I believe that Space Aliens flew many light years across the galaxy to communicate with us by flattening crops in circular patterns.”

Bergstrom’s tweet was cheeky, but his message was clear: While officials like Redfield should absolutely continue to “advocate wearing masks during a global pandemic,” as Bergstrom put it in a follow-up tweet, the idea that masks alone could, in the next four to six weeks, “control” a virus that is currently spreading at a rate of 65,000 new cases per day and killing nearly 1,000 Americans every 24 hours is as fanciful as the plot of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs.”

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