Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Dr. Anthony Fauci’s most dedicated troll in Congress, took his skepticism of COVID-19 experts to the campaign trail on Sunday, telling a Virginia crowd matter-of-factly that cloth masks don’t work and defending President Trump’s repeated statements that the virus will simply go away.
“I’m not telling you not to wear a mask,” Paul said at a rally for Nick Freitas, a Republican candidate for Congress in central Virginia, which was streamed on Freitas’ Facebook page. “The cloth masks… I’m just telling you the truth, they don’t work. Ninety-seven percent of viruses go through a cloth mask.”
It’s unclear where Paul had gotten that figure. But public health researchers have consistently found that cloth masks, while less effective than surgical masks or N95 masks, are a critical way to stop the spread of the coronavirus, because they drastically reduce the range of droplets expelled from a person’s mouth and nose. Recent research from the University of Washington, for example, found that if 95 percent of people wear cloth masks within six feet of others, it would reduce COVID-19 spread by 30 percent.