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Fauci: Six feet rule 'sort of just appeared'

Take a moment and think about how many public arguments and fights occurred from mid March 2020 until August 2022 because of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instruction to Americans to remain at least six feet apart in all public places and gatherings.

Think about how many times some finger-wagging self-appointed social-distancing police gave you grief because the distance between you and someone else measured out to less than 72 inches. (I intermittently think of the cranky old woman who told me during a spring 2020 walk that my wife and I should walk single file, not side by side. Lady, we do a lot more than just breathe close to each other.)

Think about how many times you were told to “trust the science” when it turns out . . . there was no science behind that rule. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the rule “sort of just appeared.”

In testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Fauci conceded that there was no scientific evidence to justify the six-foot social-distancing rule that was in effect, pretty much everywhere in the country, during the Covid pandemic.

Q: Do you recall when discussions regarding, kind of, the at-least-a-6-foot threshold began?

A: The six-foot in the school?

Q: Six-foot overall. I mean, 6-foot was applied at businesses —

A: Yeah.

Q: It was applied in schools, it was applied here. At least how the messaging was applied was that 6-foot distancing was the distance that needed to be —

A: You know, I don’t recall. It sort of just appeared. I don’t recall, like, a discussion of whether it should be five or six or whatever. It was just that six-foot is –

Q: Did you see any studies that supported six feet? 

A: I was not aware of studies that — in fact, that would be a very difficult study to do.

Q: I know. I’m just trying to figure out why six versus three or four or five.

A: Yeah. Yeah.

Q: Like, six is a significant distance. I mean, you’ve testified here. I think you testified in front of Mr. Scalise a couple times when I was working for him. And recalling the hearing rooms, instead of, like, seven members on the top of the dais, there’s two, and –

A: Right.

Q: — it was just two staffers behind.

A: Yeah. Yeah. I think it would fall under the category of empiric. Just an empiric decision that wasn’t based on data or even data that could be accomplished. But I’m thinking hard as I’m talking to you.

Q: Uh-huh.

A: I don’t recall, like, a discussion of, “Now it’s going to be” — it sort of just appeared, that six feet is going to be the distance.

And Fauci conceded that he couldn’t recall seeing any studies supporting masking for children or that the masking of children was against recommendations by the World Health Organization, and that no one ever bothered to do a cost-benefit analysis on the consequences of masking children.

Q: All right. Thank you. Another question that we get a lot in the masking space is the masking of children, particularly kids down to 2 years old.

A: Right.

Q: The WHO recommended against masking children less than five because masks are, and I’m quoting them, not in the overall interest of the child, and then against children six to eleven from wearing masks because, and, again, quoting, of the potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychological development. Was there ever a cost-benefit analysis done on the unintended consequences of masking kids versus the protection that it would give them?

A: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Do you recall reviewing any studies or data supporting masking for children?

A: You know, I might have, Mitch, but I don’t recall specifically that I did. I might have.

Q: Since the — there’s been a lot of studies that have come out since the  pandemic started, but specifically on this there have been significant on kind of like the learning loss and speech and development issues that have been associated with particularly young children wearing masks while they’re growing up. They can’t see their teacher talk and can’t learn how to form words. Have you followed any of those studies?

A: No. But I believe that there are a lot of conflicting studies too, that there are those that say, yes, there is an impact, and there are those that say there’s not. I still think that’s up in the air. I mean, I’m very sensitive to children. I have children and I have grandchildren. So I don’t want to have anything that would do to harm them.

Elsewhere, the thorough, careful, and diligent Alina Chan has a featured op-ed in the New York Times explaining, “Why the Pandemic Probably Started in a Lab, in 5 Key Points.” The op-ed doesn’t have any bombshell new findings, but it is significant that (a) the Times chose to run it and (b) it includes maps and infographics and other bells and whistles to illustrate the points. This is more or less a declaration by the New York Times editorial board that the lab-leak theory is no longer a conspiracy theory, disinformation, or far-fetched nonsense. This brings the New York Times up to where some of us were in, oh, April 2020 or so.

So, there was no science behind the six-feet rule for social distancing, there was no science justifying the masking of children, and the notion of the pandemic stemming from a lab leak wasn’t implausible or a conspiracy theory.

It’s not quite that “everything you were told during the pandemic was wrong.” But a whole lot of it was.

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