Doc Smo Rants About Face Masks and More (Pedcast)


Hold on, you are going to hear me do something that I have never done in my 11 years of podcasting… go on a rant, specifically about Americans and their weirdness inability or unwillingness to accept face masks. We know they are effective; we know that even the most basic of masks will work and yet we can’t get our many of our fellow citizens to wear them properly or wear them at all.  Stay tuned because I am about to unload my frustration on you right after this intro.

Image by Pixabay

Musical Intro

America is losing the battle with SARS-CoV-2, largely because our citizens won’t follow public health guidelines. I’m sorry to be so blunt but that is the reality. Oh, I am sure there are many reasons for our troubles with Covid-19- a country with a large number of foreign born workers, (a known risk factor for spreading Covid-19), a relatively old and unhealthy population who are very susceptible to adverse experiences with the virus, and a cultural mindset of individualism and independence resistant to being told what to do by government. But let’s face it, we are in the middle of a pandemic with a germ that can kill up to 6% of those infected.  Don’t we care about that? In my mind, we should be doing everything we can to protect one another and you know what that is… hand hygiene, social distancing, and face coverings. The formula is not mysterious. It is obvious that we are not doing these things otherwise we would be where the Europeans are today– kids back in school, people largely back to work, folks back shopping, and hotels filling up with guests! No, we are struggling with contact tracing, filling up ICU’s with horribly sick people struggling to breath, and arguing about our right to do whatever we want. And so many of our young adults in our society bar hopping and partying… don’t get me started.



Rather than pulling together for the greater good, Americans have used face masks as a weapon to polarize us even more.  Do we not care enough about our fellow citizens to put on a mask and do it properly? You have to be living on another planet not to have heard that SARS-CoV-2 can be asymptomatic in about 45% of cases. That means that any of us might be contagious, making others around us sick , without us feeling ill in any way!  That means that the only ways to stop the virus from spreading is to do the basics- the big three; hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask wearing. This is not rocket science folks.

But I guess if we are not going to vaccinate our children to protect them and others from deadly diseases, why should we care whether our fellow citizens get sick or dying from Covid-19, as long as you don’t make me do something I don’t want to do. These people believe that  SARS-CoV-2 is all a hoax anyway and vaccines are just a corporate conspiracy to glean large profits for themselves at the expense of the health of our children, right?  Selfish foolish rubbish but a message that resonates with sooo many Americans. In fact, 50% of Americans plan to refuse a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine even if one is developed. Never mind the millions of people that will die in the interim. Not my problem, right?

I Protect You and You Protect Me

But I digress. We know that masks drastically reduce the transmission of this very contagious virus, by about 80% in families that have a case in their household. Yes, the mask protects the person wearing it to a large degree, but its main purpose is to keep someone who is shedding the virus from infecting others around them. In other words, we don’t wear masks to protect ourselves but rather to protect others! Let me say that again, masks are mainly protecting people around the person wearing the mask, not the mask wearer. As of June 2020, we have only convinced 89% of Americans to don masks when in public.


But for masks to be effective, they need to be worn properly and all the time in public- not under the chin or over the mouth but not covering the nose. Nothing frosts me more than being in public and seeing people “pretend” to wear a mask by having it hanging under their chin or nose. Idiots if you ask me. The virus is emitted through both the nose and mouth. Covering one without the other is useless and disrespectful and dangerous for others.  Not my problem, right?  To stop the virus from moving around we have to stop all of the virus from getting in the air, not just that coming from the mouth.  As of June 2020, we have only convinced 89% of Americans to don masks when in public. If you add in those who only pretend to wear a mask, my guess is that 1 in 5 Americans aren’t interested in protecting their fellow citizens. I find that appalling and incredibly demoralizing.

Those Awkward So Frequent Encounters

Frankly, when I encounter people without masks or wearing them improperly, I am unsure what to do? I would like to put pressure on them to comply but I am not interested in getting into a fist fight as has happened so often around the country. A fight doesn’t solve anything… but maybe a podcast rant will. If you have discovered a good way to handle mask refuseniks, I would love to hear from you. Go ahead and share your ideas and I will amplify your strategy with my blog. Just send me a comment at


Well, I hope that rant reached a few people that needed to hear it. I’m hoping that this diatribe might literally save someone’s life. Thanks for listening and if you value the information you get from Portable Practical Pediatrics, consider doing all the internet things that  will further our cause by liking, sharing, rating, and commenting. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, your host, hoping that this pedcast struck a chord, that can’t be ignored.  Until next time.

Many thanks to Drs. Monica Miller and Charlotte Rouchouze for their help in preparing this pedcast.