Wearing a Mask is not Pennsylvania State Law
By State Senator Douglas Mastriano
Upon being asked last week if wearing a mask is law in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf responded, “I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know what the issue is here, uh, if you want to stay safe, you ought to wear a mask…again, you can take that as something maybe, uh, has force of law.”
After six years in office, we would assume that the governor understands how laws are created. In fact, there is no law to wear a mask in Pennsylvania. Laws are created by two legislative bodies – the House of Representatives and the Senate, who together form the General Assembly. As a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, no mask bill has crossed my desk. Just because our governor thinks it into being, doesn’t mean he can snap his fingers and make it so.
This chaos and confusion about whether wearing a mask is law is the result of our governor’s rhetorical routine. His Orwellian newspeak has bamboozled citizens into thinking that masks are indeed law. As a result there are signs on businesses that declare law mandates that people must have a mask on before entering. These businesses are woefully misinformed. On April 15th of this year, Governor Wolf suggested that citizens who do not wear masks while shopping be denied service. He further declared that a business can “deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, UNLESS the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food.”
Then why do chain pharmacies, which supply all three – medication, medical supplies and food, have signs on their doors indicating it is state law? The same holds true for a chain grocery store in western PA, which was recorded physically removing and harassing citizens for not wearing masks, again, under the misguided assumption that it is law.
The confusion on wearing masks is not limited to Gov Tom Wolf. On February 29th, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams advised people to stop buying masks, and claimed “they are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching Coronavirus.” While purportedly this was believed to have a supply readily available for frontline healthcare providers, the logic does not make sense. Do masks only protect healthcare workers? Dr. Anthony Fauci, echoed this same message on March 8th saying “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask…it might make people feel a little better…but it’s not providing the perfect protection the people think it is.” Our citizens look to these individuals as experts with medical expertise. Why then does our governor rely on Secretary Levine whose practice has been in pediatrics and psychiatry, with specialties in addiction and eating disorders? A secretary whose Covid-19 numbers in Pennsylvania are deceptively exaggerated and further complicated by zero experience in state policy and epidemiology.
Researchers disagree whether a face mask actually protects you. It’s believed that the virus can be spread through a fine mist called an aerosol unlike large respiratory droplets associated with influenza. Regular surgical masks only block the larger droplets. While the CDC recommends the use of bandanas, scarves and other homemade masks when necessary, according to a 2013 study published in the Cambridge University Press, homemade masks should only be considered as a last resort. And, Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease and environmental health expert with the University of Minnesota, declared that “surgical masks and cloth masks…don’t stop the aerosols…and the virus is basically going right around the sides of these open gaps in the masks.”
Masks also exacerbate existing medical conditions. People with heart or lung disease can be adversely affected by wearing a mask, forcing the lungs to work harder to breath due to carbon dioxide buildup, which subsequently reduces the intake of oxygen. According to the National Institutes of Health inhaling high levels of carbon dioxide may be life threatening and cause Hypercapnia, which happens when your body does not receive enough fresh oxygen. And a May 2020 study published in Respir Care demonstrated that blood oxygen saturation and exhaled carbon dioxide levels showed significant differences before and after N95 use. Yet, numerous individuals, fearful of Pennsylvania’s “encouragement” to wear masks, are exercising – running and walking – with masks that are neither effective or good for their health.
Although businesses can require you to wear a mask, IT IS NOT STATE LAW. If they sell food, medication and medical supplies – Governor Wolf says you cannot be denied entry. Know your rights, and overcome the confusion created by our governor and secretary of health. Using fear and chaos to control a populace is a treacherous path in a constitutional republic. It is because of this that I do daily updates at 8pm on my Senator Doug Mastriano FB page to answer questions and to update constituents with facts and truth. This is the way to get through this unprecedented and perilous time. As Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”