This commentary is by Karen Bufka, of St. Johnsbury.
Although not a big fan of horror films, I have watched some zombie movies. From that limited survey, my understanding is that a zombie is a person who dies and gets buried and then wakes up and climbs out of their grave and roams around wreaking havoc — and sometimes chasing you with remarkable speed even if they are already partially decomposed. They are persistent. It is very difficult to get them to nicely go be dead in their grave again.
Are mask requirements going to be like zombies? Right now, they are on the wane, but might they just wake up again? As far as I know, no one who has ended their mask requirement has told us to get rid of our masks because we will never, ever be required to wear them again.
This relatively calm and fear-free moment is the perfect time to educate ourselves about mask benefits and risks, and about our rights with regard to them. There is no immediate crisis, so we can be maximally clear-headed, taking the time to do our research thoroughly. “Be prepared” is a good motto. It behoves us to equip ourselves with a full understanding of the risks and benefits of masks now, just in case mask requirements do indeed climb out of their grave.
The upcoming Vermont Emergency Forum to Assess the Respiratory Hazards of Masks, on May 12 in Burlington, will provide an opportunity to learn from two OSHA-certified health and safety experts, a Ph.D in Cellular and Molecular Biology who will explain the importance of respiration for the various systems of the body, and an expert on the topic of masking children in schools.
It is a violation of internationally agreed-upon bioethics and human rights to require someone to wear a mask if you do not tell them both the benefits and the risks involved. In 2005, all 193 member states of the United Nations, including the U.S., adopted the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.
Article 6, Consent, #1 says: “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.”
Masks are preventive medical interventions. Did anyone requiring you to wear a mask provide you with “adequate information” on both the benefits and risks, so that you could choose for yourself whether to take those risks? Were you encouraged to give your “free and informed consent” to wearing a mask? Were you informed that you could withdraw your consent to wear it at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice? None of us were.
And there’s the law. Masks are Emergency Use Authorized products. That means they are covered by U.S. Code Title 21 Section 360bbb-3 “Authorization for medical products for use in emergencies,” which says “that individuals to whom the product is administered are informed … of the significant known and potential benefits and risks of such use, and of the extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown … and of the option to accept or refuse administration of the product, of the consequences, if any, of refusing administration of the product, and of the alternatives to the product that are available and of their benefits and risks.”
The relevant paragraph is on the second page (294), right side, about halfway down under “(e) Conditions of authorization (1) Unapproved product (A) Required conditions”. Point(ii)(II) is the one about informing people about risks as well as benefits, and (ii)(III) is crucial since it says that they have the option to accept or refuse the product.
Learn the risks to you and your loved ones — especially children — involved in wearing a mask. The Vermont Mask Survey is a good place to start, as is the event mentioned above. Be prepared to stand up for your human rights and for the ethical standards that our world community adopted in 2005. Know the law. Just in case mask requirements do turn out to be zombies.