Now that we’ve been at this COVID-19 thing for six months, you’d think we’d have a clearer picture of what’s happening. The media religiously conveys the nearly meaningless total COVID-19 cases since March without much context. So let’s provide some. Going to the state’s tracking website, http://covid.ks.gov/, some charts look daunting and the total number of cases is ever climbing,  just as numbers do if one continually adds to them without subtracting those that have recovered or are no longer active cases.


The Kansas tracker shows approximately 39,000 total COVID-19 cases for the state. With 3.2 million Kansans, we’ve finally eclipsed 1% of the population who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. With such a small number, should Kansans celebrate the success of so few people contracting the disease or should we dread that we’ll have to endure the various stages of the governor’s lockdown for months to come if not the rest of her term?  Kansas’ COVID-19 deaths have eclipsed 430 thankfully amounting to just 1/100 of a percent. That’s exceptionally low yet the fear of higher numbers of deaths and likely litigation resulting therefrom is what is keeping the economy hobbled and schools afraid of opening.


Clearly the elderly are at the greatest risk with the average age of a COVID-19 death being 79 and 91% of COVID-19 deaths hitting those older than 55. The youngest death in the state was an 18-year-old. And yet businesses and schools remain constrained and the citizenry has been railroaded by government "experts" into ever escalating demands to wear masks with many large chain stores browbeated into mandating mask use for entry/access.


It doesn’t matter that medical journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine have found no evidence that masks prevent the spread of viruses and are at best a "feel good" measure or that there is little correlation between countries mandating mask wear and those that don’t with the rise or fall of COVID-19 cases or deaths. Sweden, Denmark, Iowa and South Dakota, who have not mandated mask use, come to mind. Here in Kansas we’ve seen the greatest increase in new cases occurring with the increased mandate and requirement to wear masks.


To be fair, many of us don’t or can’t don masks in the fashion needed to have a shot at having an effect.


Masks are typically picked up off of car seats with unsterile hands, worn as chin straps and reused over and over not merely because of the cost but because one "must wear one for entry."


Masks aren’t an effective deterrent except perhaps as a virtue signaling cudgel to browbeat fellow citizens. Though forced to wear a mask because "everyone else is" and it’s "recommended," it doesn’t change the fact that mask use is ineffective.


Kansans shouldn’t continue to delude themselves or lose context as to whether COVID-19 is a particularly lethal illness, because it’s not. We need to think critically, use common sense and emphasize things that work like social distancing, washing hands, opening schools and keeping immune systems strong with vitamin D, zinc and other effective and early treatments.


Greg Beck is a Leavenworth Times columnist.