Tucker Carlson Wrongly Claims Masks, Distancing Have 'No Basis' in Science

Tucker Carlson has claimed that basic coronavirus safety measures put into place to protect students and staff returning to school have "no basis of any kind in science," despite a growing body of research and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting otherwise.

The Fox News host made the claim on Tuesday night during a rant about reluctance to send students, teachers and other school staff back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many schools that do plan to reopen will do so under a series of restrictions that have no basis of any kind in science," Carlson said.

Branding the enforcement of measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 "a kind of bizarre health theater," Carlson said: "Students will be kept six feet apart, everyone will have to wear a mask, class size will be limited and in some schools there will be scheduled bathroom breaks, etc. etc."

The Fox News host faced an almost immediate wave of backlash over the comments, with conservative opinion writer Jennifer Rubin warning that Carlson's claims could cost lives.

"Fox News puts this on the air. People listen and die," Rubin said.

The opinion writer also took aim aim at Fox News employees and advertisers, writing: "If you have a conscience you have no business working there; if you are an advertiser who are facilitating deaths."

Fox News puts this on the air. People listen and die. If you have a conscience you have no business working there; if you are an advertiser who are facilitating deaths

— Jennifer 'the people have decided' Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) July 8, 2020

"I guess he thinks people dying from coronavirus are just doing it for the shock value, then?" Katie Phang, a legal contributor for NBC and MSNBC weighed in.

As of Wednesday morning, 131,480 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus, with a total of 2,996,098 COVID-19 cases being confirmed in the country.

There is no mystery around the way that coronavirus spreads: "mainly from person-to-person," the CDC has said, with the virus being passed through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

Even people who do not show signs of the virus, the CDC has made clear, can be carriers of the virus and can spread it to others.

Therefore the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, both the CDC and the World Health Organization, have said, is to avoid close contact with others.

Social distancing, or maintaining a distance of at least six feet apart from others, and wearing a face mask have been determined to be effective ways to avoid spreading COVID-19.

While there has been debate around the efficacy of masks in protecting their wearers, the CDC has said that wearing a mask can help prevent the wearer from spreading the virus themselves, including those who may not be aware they are carriers.

Counter to Carlson's claim, there is a growing body of research to support coronavirus prevention methods.

On the use of face masks, one study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May, analyzed high-speed video to find that hundreds of respiratory droplets could be generated simply by saying a simple phrase.

Nearly all of those droplets, however, were blocked when the speaker's mouth was covered by a damp washcloth, however.

Meanwhile, another study published in Nature in April looking at people with influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the reach of respiratory droplets carrying the viruses.

When it comes to social distancing, research has also suggested that the risk of transmission of coronavirus becomes significantly lower when people maintain a safe distance.

One recent study published on the CDC's website found traces of the virus in the air as far as four meters away from infected patients at a coronavirus ward, suggesting that the recommended six-meter distance is useful to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Another study published in The Lancet last month, however, found that even by maintaining a distance of one meter one could significantly reduce their risk of contracting the virus, with the risk becoming lower with increased distance.

With a growing body of research suggesting that social distancing and wearing face masks can help prevent the spread of coronavirus, it would be inaccurate to claim that there is no scientific basis for the current COVID-19 guidelines.

Tucker Carlson
Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Carlson has wrongly claimed there is no scientific basis for coronavirus safety measures. Chip Somodevilla/Getty