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Editorial: Anti-mask argument falls short…again

On Thursday morning, Gov. Mike DeWine’s office announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The news was greeted with messages of concern from across the state and nation, wishing the governor well.

But as Dewine has been an advocate of the wearing of masks and social distancing during the pandemic, it was not long until certain opportunistic politicians of the junk science crowd tried to use the report to push more debunked misinformation.

So it was no shock when state Rep. Nino Vitale, R-85, just had to speak out in bad taste.

Vitale, who has made a name for himself over the years pushing anti-vaccine crack-pottery and other unfounded claims, is the kind of anti-science, sanctimonious simpleton who likely still has trouble, centuries later, conceding that Galileo was right.

As a leading voice in the fight against sensible measures to contain the spread of the virus, he has pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Dr. Amy Acton, has regularly attacked DeWine for his handling of COVID-19 and has even idiotically, and irresponsibly, told people not to get tested for the virus.

On Thursday, Vitale took to his Facebook page, where reason goes to die, to offer his usual failed attempt at expertise.

Alongside a graphic proclaiming “DeWine tests positive! I thought masks worked?” Vitale posted, “(…) I think the question must be asked. Has he not been wearing his mask, or do masks not stop the spread?”

As it turned out from a second test, DeWine was not positive after all, making Vitale look like a fool rather quickly.

But, even if the governor had been positive, Vitale still would have been completely wrong.

No one, including DeWine, has ever said masks were full proof. But they do, along with other preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing, greatly reduce the spread of the virus. And the greater the number of people wearing masks, the more effective they are.

Consider just a few weeks ago, when the spike in Ohio’s numbers began looking quite alarming and several counties began moving into the Red Level Three designation on the state’s alert system.

It was shortly thereafter that DeWine issued the statewide mask mandate. And, as this week’s numbers showed, it has made an impact.

Three counties, including Lawrence County, moved from Red Level Three back to Orange Level Two and 10 counties went from Orange Level Two to Yellow Level One.

There are still red counties on the map, but they are largely confined to the larger metropolitan areas.

While COVID-19 is hardly over, the improvements show that measures like wearing masks are both necessary and effective in dealing with the virus.

The science is clear and it does the public no good for certain ideologue politicians to keep spreading misinformation otherwise and making cheap shots, as Vitale did, to try to bolster their wrongheaded flailing.

If you want Ohio to be more safe and the spike in cases to flatten, wear a mask. It’s that simple.