The Ontario arbitration fight about masks is really stunning. The background: several Ontario hospitals wanted to make all nurses get flu vaccinations. Legally they couldn’t. So they required the nurses who wouldn’t get vaccinated to wear masks.
The nurses filed a grievance saying that masks were useless and they should not be forced to wear them. Both sides took the arbitration very seriously.
A long fight ensued. Both sides called experts and offered evidence. And in two decisions – in 2015 and 2018 – separate arbitrators ruled for the nurses.
ALL the experts agreed that there was (at most) limited evidence that masks reduce risks of transmission – AND THIS IS IN HOSPITALS, where the risk is many times what it would be in a community setting.
The experts found limited risk of asymptomatic transmission (the real issue here because if you’re coughing a lot you should wear a mask or preferably stay home), though they couldn’t agree on the details, and this is for the flu, which has been studied way more than SARS-CoV-2.
And testimony also showed many nurses found masks uncomfortable and that they tended to have a “grunge factor” when worn for long periods.
And so the arbitrators found unequivocally in favor of the nurses: NO MASKS. But hey, this was all before March. All the science changed in March. Science!