White House COVID official admits that other measures are more effective than masking

NBC News reported last Friday that the United States is seeing an upswing in COVID hospitalizations, and that has authorities in some jurisdictions reinstating mask mandates.

Surprisingly, a major White House official recently shied away from demanding new mandates and acknowledged that there are better strategies to pursue. 

Dr. Ashish Jha serves as the Biden administration’s COVID response coordinator, and on December 16 he spoke with The Philadelphia Inquirer about the winter case surge.

Other measures more effective than masking

Jha took a moment to promote the wearing of face masks, arguing that “a high-quality, well-fitted mask reduces transmission.”

Yet something which stood out to CBS News reporter Alexander Tin about Jha’s remarks was his admission that “there is no study in the world” suggesting mask usage is as effective at stopping the spread of COVID as improving air quality is.

In fact, Jha spent much of his interview touting how the Biden administration has made it easier for states and localities to improve air quality in buildings.

Jha touts indoor air quality over masking

“You know, in terms of other investments, there are a lot of dollars that came out of the American Rescue Plan given to cities and states for investments in improving indoor air quality,” he said.

“I actually think this is probably the most important long-term thing we can be doing for schools or office buildings or nursing homes,” Jha insisted.

“Indoor air quality has just not got the level of attention it deserves,” he continued. “Most experts believe that, if we make some basic investments in indoor air quality, we can reduce, in fact, all respiratory infections by 30 or 60 or even 80%.”

“I mean, the notion that you could cut respiratory infections — there is no study in the world that shows that masks work that well,” Jha stressed.

Mandatory masking “never going” to be as helpful as improved air quality

“So you’re never going to get the kind of benefit from mandatory year round masking as you would from making substantial improvements in indoor air quality, plus it’s a lot easier to implement as well,” he concluded.

Jha’s comments on mask efficacy did not go unnoticed by Christina Pushaw, who serves as a campaign spokeswoman for Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. She noted in a tweet that DeSantis has been criticized for presenting a similar message.