Perhaps no other public health officer in Montana, except perhaps Drenda Niemann, has imposed such draconian and oppressive mask enforcement policies as Matt Kelley of the Gallatin County Health Board. Kelley, who does not have a degree in medicine, has repeatedly insisted that masks were necessary to save lives and that Republican efforts to help Montana breathe freely would lead to countless deaths in a brutal COVID-19 spike.
Kelley, who had Bozemanites so upset they literally camped outside his house in protest, announced his retirement last month (effective June 1) to take a job with a non-profit funded by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturer, which will lobby state government to require forced vaccinations and the use of vaccine passports.
Kelley’s most notable act was penalizing Rocking R Bar and other establishments for not enforcing his mask policies. He then thwarted new Attorney General Austin Knudsen who ordered him to stop making tyranny his hobby, and continued to press against state legislators who – on behalf of the people who elected them – passed laws limiting the power of unelected health officers from being able to declare martial law in the event of a chest cold.
Last week, Montana Daily Gazette reported that Gallatin County’s COVID-19 figures were dropping through the floor following the passage and signing of legislation limiting Kelley’s power. As the masks came off, COVID-19 positivity rates plummeted. Some argued that the drop occurred so close to the passage of HB257 that the decline in COVID could not be blamed upon de-masking and that rates would be sure to rise.
It turns out, the best way to stop COVID-19 is take the masks off. At least, that’s what the empirical data is telling us.
According to the stats, figures released by the Gallatin County Health Department show a drop of 58.5% from last week. That’s on top of a 31% drop from the week before.
Oddly enough, the Bozeman Chronicle still sought Kelley’s expert opinion, despite the fact that he’s proven himself an expert of nothing at all. Kelley told the newspaper, “That’s good news, but COVID-19 is still a threat.”
It appears that the only real threat to Gallatin County is Matt Kelley. The Fake News outlet made no attempt to explain why COVID-19 figures were dropping along with the masks. The fact is, when masks went up, COVID-19 went up. When masks came down, COVID-19 came down. It is important to note that the positivity rate did not come down until the masking ordinances were removed by the legislature. The masking ordinances did not come down in response to lower positivity rates; it’s the other way around.
Likely, the best explanation for the correlational figures between lowered COVID-19 rates and dropped masking ordinances is not due to masks literally causing COVID-spread. Instead, it’s likely that irrational fear – reinforced by the visible imagery of masks – made people terrified and therefore, rush to be tested.
With the masks gone, people stopped being visably reminded of the fear they are supposed to live in, and the psychological strangle-hold of hypochondria dissipated. Because more than 85% of people with COVID-19 never experience a symptom and only a tiny fraction of one percent will wind up in a hospital, with death only calling for already-ill people 70-years-old and above, people just went on with life.
Imagine that. Life without fear. It’s a beautiful thing.