CNN’s Dana Bash asked Joe Biden for a response to Trump criticizing Biden’s cloth face mask. Biden responded sanctimoniously:

BASH: “It’s not just some people making fun of you, he did … he’s trying to belittle you for wearing a mask, making it seem like it’s a sign of weakness. Is it?”

BIDEN: “He’s a fool. An absolute fool to talk that way. I mean, every leading doc in the world says you should wear a mask when out in a crowd …”

As I responded on Twitter, maybe Trump was alluding to the preening sanctimony of wearing cloth masks, specifically, that were studied and proven to be wholly, entirely, and unequivocally ineffective. Cloth masks are basically face diapers, nothing more than physical manifestations of virtue signaling. Cloth masks are ineffective. They prevent nothing. They stop nothing. They do nothing.

From The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

Following a recommendation that cloth masks be explored for use in healthcare settings during the next influenza pandemic,3 The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study of the filter performance on clothing materials and articles, including commercial cloth masks marketed for air pollution and allergens, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and scarfs.4

Filter efficiency was measured across a wide range of small particle sizes (0.02 to 1 µm) at 33 and 99 L/min. N95 respirators had efficiencies greater than 95% (as expected). For the entire range of particles tested, t-shirts had 10% efficiency, scarves 10% to 20%, cloth masks 10% to 30%, sweatshirts 20% to 40%, and towels 40%. All of the cloth masks and materials had near zero efficiency at 0.3 µm, a particle size that easily penetrates into the lungs.4

Another study evaluated 44 masks, respirators, and other materials with similar methods and small aerosols (0.08 and 0.22 µm).5 N95 FFR filter efficiency was greater than 95%. Medical masks exhibited 55% efficiency, general masks 38% and handkerchiefs 2% (one layer) to 13% (four layers).

These studies demonstrate that cloth or homemade masks will have very low filter efficiency (2% to 38%). Medical masks are made from a wide range of materials, and studies have found a wide range of filter efficiency (2% to 98%), with most exhibiting 30% to 50% efficiency.

Via BMJ:

Results The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.

Conclusions This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs, particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.

Via the Annals of Internal Medicine:

Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients. Prior evidence that surgical masks effectively filtered influenza virus (1) informed recommendations that patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear face masks to prevent transmission (2). However, the size and concentrations of SARS–CoV-2 in aerosols generated during coughing are unknown. Oberg and Brousseau (3) demonstrated that surgical masks did not exhibit adequate filter performance against aerosols measuring 0.9, 2.0, and 3.1 μm in diameter. Lee and colleagues (4) showed that particles 0.04 to 0.2 μm can penetrate surgical masks. The size of the SARS–CoV particle from the 2002–2004 outbreak was estimated as 0.08 to 0.14 μm (5); assuming that SARS-CoV-2 has a similar size, surgical masks are unlikely to effectively filter this virus

[… ]

In conclusion, both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.

Biden was wearing a cloth mask. A scientifically proven-to-be-ineffective cloth mask.

Quarantine perhaps tempered Biden’s attitude. Before the pandemic, Biden was quick to fight with voters on the campaign trail. Who can forget Biden arguing with a student on camera and calling her a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier?” Or the Iowa voter Biden argued with, saying “Look, fat,” before calling the man a “damn liar” and stating the Iowan was “too old to vote for me” before challenging him to a push-up contest? Or that factory worker that Biden told “you’re full of sh–“ and “don’t be a horse’s a–?

Biden is clinging to the cloth mask as his last advantage. Really, that’s how Democrats look at this: the mask will be a rallying cry for virtue signaling, even more so than now.

*To add: What really gets me about this is that Biden is wearing, again, a completely ineffective covering as a way to influence others to wear completely ineffective face coverings, since N95s are impossible to obtain and regular surgical masks (which aren’t all that better than cloth masks, but measurably better at least, according to the above-linked studies) are nearly equally difficult to source. It’s acting out a lie. It’s BS theater. These cloth masks do nothing but lull people into a false sense of safety because they think these proven-ineffective masks are actually protecting them. It’s the act of lying to people while simultaneously claiming to be trustworthy. It doesn’t look silly to me that he’s wearing a mask, it looks silly to me that he’s wearing that type of mask (I don’t believe that the Bidens are unaware of the numerous cloth mask studies) and putting on such a big show of having it seen.

This woman was literally chased out of a grocery store because she wasn’t masked.

This woman was (socially-undistanced) punched for not wearing a mask.

This MSNBC reporter tried to mask-shame people on a beach before an awesome bystander called him on his BS (wait for it, in video).

I am not bothered if I see someone wearing a mask. I don’t know what issues they have going on at home with family. Refusal to participate in mask shaming should go both ways. (I also think it inconsistent to demand private business drop their mask requirements. It’s like demanding that bakery proprietor bake that cake.) Stop shaming people for not wearing masks outside in the warm air and sunshine. Stop shaming people if they agree with countless studies that cloth masks are ineffective and pointless and stop acting like recognition of this fact makes someone a mass murderer.