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PolitiFact Rates Dan Forest’s Claim that “85% of COVID-19 Patients Wore Masks” FALSE


Oct 19, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 19, 2020
CONTACT: Liz Doherty

PolitiFact Rates Dan Forest’s Claim that “85% of COVID-19 Patients Wore Masks” FALSE

RALEIGH — At the gubernatorial debate last week, Dan Forest continued to disregard science and data, claiming that “85% of the positive cases in America are from people who say they wore the mask everyday, all the time, or at least almost all the time. 85% of the positive cases.” PolitiFact rates this claim “false.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson also misrepresented the findings of the study when he first made this claim. Carlson’s claim “contradicted the guidance of public health officials, who say mask wearing on a broad scale can slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

Spreading misinformation has come to define Forest’s campaign. Over the last few months, Forest falsely claimed that “masks do not work with viruses,” called for schools to reopen immediately with no safety precautions, and said he’d lift the mask mandate if elected. 

Forest has downplayed the severity of the pandemic and contributed to the spread of the virus by holding at least 50 in-person campaign events with no masks or social distancing. He’s declared to the press that his goal is to “shake as many hands” as he can, and pledged to continue in-person fundraising.

It should also be noted that wearing masks is not just about oneself. It is about protecting other people. Like Governor Cooper said months ago, “We’ve got to realize that strong people wear face coverings because it is a sign of compassion and that you actually care about people.”

VIEW.

KEY POINTS:

  • Dan Forest, North Carolina’s Republican candidate for governor, cited the study during his debate with incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday.
  • “The CDC just this week released their study about mask wearing on COVID-positive cases: 85% of the positive cases in America are from people who say they wore the mask everyday, all the time, or at least almost all the time. 85% of the positive cases,” Forest said.
  • It’s misleading to leap to conclusions about the effectiveness of masks from the CDC report, since most participants reported wearing them and the study was not controlling for mask use.
  • Carlson’s claim also mischaracterized the science behind masks. While masks do provide some protection for wearers, experts and public health officials say they are most effective as “source control,” preventing infected people from transmitting the virus.
  • The CDC recommends wearing masks in public and when social distancing isn’t possible. Neuman [a virologist with Texas A&M University, Texarkana] previously shared three studies with PolitiFact that found wearing masks reduces the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus. Other studies have said the same.
  • Masks are most effective at preventing infected people from spreading the virus, and studies show they can help slow the spread.
  • We rate Carlson’s statement False.

READ MORE: WRAL: “Fact check: Does CDC study show ‘85 percent’ of COVID-19 patients wore masks? Not exactly.” By Bill McCarthy, October 16, 2020.

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