NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     January 2021

Biden Mask Mandate Debate This Thursday - Join the Discussion

On January 21 at 10:AM CST we will be holding a discussion/debate open to everyone. The specific subject will be the Biden Mandate to wear masks in public. The proposition will be

Should tight fitting efficient masks be the primary route to quickly end the pandemic and should efficiency be specified by the administration?

Bob McIlvaine will be one of the participants arguing the affirmative. Anyone is welcome to make negative  arguments  or to further advance the affirmative. Where there is supporting information in Coronavirus Mask Decisions it can be displayed as part of the argument.  Information which would be relevant can be submitted for the Alerts preceding the discussion.

The major relevant issues to be individually debated are:

  • How efficient will tight fitting efficient masks be in capturing and preventing the spread of the virus?
    • Affirmative: Viruses are primarily airborne. When both emitter and recipient wear them 99% of the viruses are eliminated making masks the best weapon in the arsenal.
    • Negative: Some virus is transmitted on surfaces and masks are not effective in protecting the wearer.
  • Can sufficient numbers of tight fitting efficient masks be made available to have the short term impact?
    • Affirmative: A combination of commercially available reusable masks can be combined with medical masks using braces to supply everyone within 90 days
    • Negative: There is a shortage of meltblowns and insufficient media would be available for public masks.
  • Is the tight-fitting mask needed when vaccines will soon provide herd immunity?
    • Affirmative: Masks can save hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. in 2021 and millions in poorer countries through 2024.
    • Negative: Focus should be on vaccines and people in poorer countries won’t wear masks.
  • Are masks the most cost effective option?
    • Affirmative: Masks capture virus at the source and are far more cost effective than social distancing or any other option.
    • Negative: Controlled occupancy, sanitation, HVAC, social distancing and similar measures are better choices.

Subsidiary and clarifying subjects are

  • What is the definition of tight fitting and efficient?

Media penetration, air leakage and resistance are all relevant. Fitted Filter Efficiency (FFE) includes both penetration and leakage. To have a single number to rate masks it could be FFE-minus resistance in mm of H2O.

  • What efficiency level should be required?

McIlvaine believes an FFE 0f 90 is achievable and when worn by both emitter and recipient is 99% effective. ASTM has two efficiency levels (20% and 50%) and no specific leakage limit. ASTM points to evidence that most virus is not at 0.3 microns and that if media removes 20% of the 0.3 micron particles it will be much more efficient on viruses in larger droplets.

One calculation shows that if both emitter and recipient are wearing FFE 90 masks, 99% of the virus is captured. ASTM 50 masks on both could result in 85% capture and ASTM 20 masks with 50% capture.

  • How do you measure air leakage?

Do you utilize quantitative, approved qualitative, or approximate qualitative methods.  Since 50% of the air can circumvent the media, this is a major issue.

  • Who measures air leakage?

This can be subdivided into measuring a generic mask fit for an individual as opposed to a test in use. A quantitative test can show leakage based on an individual wearing a particular size of a particular mask. However, when he puts on one of these masks there is no assurance that he is wearing it properly.

Should analysis center around a two tier system which is generic and specific?

  • Will there be enough masks available?

Ideally everyone should be wearing a Comfortable, Attractive, Tight Fitting, Reusable (CATER) masks.  Alternatively N95 masks will provide the FFE 90 effectiveness. But to meet near term needs the medical mask with a brace is an effective alternative. Are there enough medical masks available and are there enough braces available?

  • Can disposable masks be cleaned and reused?

Mask availability is definitely a function of reuse. It could be argued that a nurse in a COVID isolation unit captures as much virus in an hour as an office worker would in 100 days in a high load environment or in 1000 days in a low load environment. So public reuse is unique and raises the following questions.

  • How long can the mask be used before cleaning?
  • What cleaning procedure should be utilized?
  • What will be the impact on effectiveness as a result of cleaning?
  • What role do anti-microbials play in prolonging mask life

Biden’s claim to save 100,000 lives with a mask mandate is based on a study by IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team

It finds that achieving universal mask use (95% mask use in public) could be sufficient to ameliorate the worst effects of epidemic resurgences in many states. Universal mask use could save an additional 129,574 (85,284–170,867) lives from September 22, 2020 through the end of February 2021, or an additional 95,814 (60,731–133,077) lives assuming a lesser adoption of mask wearing (85%), when compared to the reference scenario.

The model uses a direct ratio from mask use to lives saved. It is irrefutable that mask effectiveness is also a direct function in lives saved. Some masks are completely ineffective and others very effective. A mask mandate without qualification is comparable to saying all football players should wear head covering. Here are comparative efficiencies.


Masks are very effective because both emitter and recipient capture virus. If the emitter captures 90% and the recipient removes 90% of the 10% reaching him, the net potential inhaled virus is reduced by 99%. The ASTM 50 if provided with air leakage of less than 10% might be able to achieve 85% reduction. The ASTM 20 could provide 50% reduction and the cloth mask 20%.

But now let’s consider performance based on the risk factor or the virus remaining.


On a relative basis there will be 80 times as much virus in the air if everyone is in cloth masks vs FFE 90 masks. You can argue that with ASTM masks 85% of the risk is eliminated. Or you can argue that these masks leave 15 times as much virus in the air as FFE 90 masks.

The debate on efficiency of these alternative mask types will be an important segment of the webinar and will be a major decision for the new administration.

To register for the webinar on January 21 at 10:am CST

You can send information for the Alerts prior to the webinar to Bob Mcilvaine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call him at 847 226 2391