Can we just be honest for a minute? Lockdowns, mask mandates, and delayed reopenings have had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. Everyone thinks they are an infectious disease expert nowadays, but the facts just don’t line up. Masks, for instance, might work on a micro-level for individuals, but on a macro level, there isn’t a clear pattern of correlation between mask mandates and the number of cases.

Americans and people around the world are wearing more masks than at any point since the pandemic began, and yet the number of cases has spiked in many places this summer. California has had strict lockdown and mask mandates, but the number of cases has continued to rise at a rate higher than much of the country.

Hawaii, an island state that is geographically isolated from the rest of the world, has seen a large increase in cases. You can’t even jog in Hawaii without wearing a mask, but that has done absolutely nothing to stop the virus. Writing for Conservative Review, Daniel Horowitz wrote, “Cases are surging more than ever – just like in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia, and every southern latitude area with a strict mask mandate and lockdown.

That goes for the entire United States as a whole. A New York Times study found that 80 percent of Americans say they are wearing masks in public. Despite this, the country has seen a second wave of reported cases overall.

During the hard lockdowns of March-May, the number of deaths in places like New York was astronomically higher than they have been since most of the country has partially reopened. Many of the initial deaths were people over the age of 70, who still are far more likely to die from the virus than any other age range. Governors like Andrew Cuomo in New York made nursing homes into death factories by ordering that residents who had been treated for COVID must return to their care facilities.”

The media points to the reopening of sunbelt states like Florida and southwestern states like Arizona and Texas, which have seen a large increase in cases this summer, as proof that lockdowns and mask mandates work.

However, Texas and South Florida both have high rates of mask-wearing according to the same New York Times study mentioned above, ranging from 75-87 percent in high population areas. So, if masks work, then why have cases spiked in these areas?

How about mask-wearing effectiveness around the world? In the Philippines, citizens can be arrested or even shot by police if they don’t wear masks, and according to a YouGov survey, 92 percent of Filipinos say they always wear masks. Despite this, the island nation has seen an uptick in cases. On March 15, under the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, anyone under 21 or over 60 was not allowed out of their home, only one family member could go out for food and medicine, and there was an across-the-board curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. President Duterte threatened to have violators shot, according to Daniel Horowitz.

Sweden, on the other hand, has achieved herd immunity, it appears. The country never shut down and only 2% of Swedes wear a mask.

Moral of the story: there is no stopping a respiratory virus by tactics other than herd immunity.

There are some studies that show that mask-wearing may slow the distance that droplets can spread in close conditions, but that is on a micro-level. On a macro-level, the data shows no matter how strict or how loose government mandates are, there is no stopping the virus.

The best we can hope for his herd immunity like that of Sweden. This isn’t an ideological argument; this a conclusion based on data and science, not emotion. What we’re doing right now clearly isn’t working, and it’s time we started looking for a new solution.