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(LifeSiteNews) – Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo delivered another challenge to COVID mask orthodoxy this week, arguing that the paper and cloth garments that have become ubiquitous in public since 2020 are largely useless.

Ladapo, a vocal critic of mask mandates and vaccine passports, delivered remarks while waving a mask for emphasis, lamenting that “most” people “across the political spectrum” think that “these things are saving lives.”

“Our highest level of evidence are clinical trials. So, to the doctors who tell you that these things save lives, ask them, ‘What did the two randomized clinical trials that we’ve done during the pandemic, what did they show?’’ he advised the crowd. “Ask them that, when they tell you that these things save lives. One found nothing, zero benefit. The other found a small benefit, like a tiny benefit that’s a little bit methodologically shaky. And by the way, none of them, none of them found a benefit in young people.”

“Lower evidence is what the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention] likes to tout,” Ladapo continued. “You know, shaky studies, shaky methods, finding 80 percent reductions in infection, give me a break, you know? I mean, come on. Nothing that we’re seeing in this country justifies that kind of conclusion. So that’s what the evidence shows.”

Despite such evidence, Ladapo lamented, “doctors who said that, who said that these things are not gonna save your life, these things aren’t gonna end the pandemic, these doctors, they’ve been kicked off of social media, these are facts. They’ve had their licenses suspended, because they didn’t think that their clinical practices needed to do that, I mean, that’s crazy. Good doctors who are brave enough to say what the science showed got punished. That’s happening, and it’s still happening where people are still holding up the illusion that these things save lives.”

A body of publicly available evidence agrees, such as the CDC’s September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist professor Vinay Prasad wrote in September. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”

Last week, Ladapo and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a new set of state health guidances meant to support doctors who dissent from COVID orthodoxy, including explicitly advising businesses “to no longer require facial coverings for employees, as there is no proven significant clinical benefit for facial coverings among the general population.”

At the same time, the governor’s office did not answer questions about DeSantis’s choice to simultaneously extend liability protections for doctors who continue to impose the CDC’s recommendations on their patients.