A high-ranking official at Bethel Church in Redding, California—where at least 274 students, staff, and church members contracted the novel coronavirus—posted a video to her social media last weekend calling masks “worthless” “security blankets.” In the video, Beni Johnson and her daughter, Leah Valenzuela, talk about trying to order food from a restaurant without masks, where other patrons gave them side-eye. “If you’ll do the scientific research, these masks are worthless,” Johnson says. “They’re people’s security blankets. It’s just really, really sad.” Her daughter adds, laughing: “Placebo!” The pair allegedly decided to skip a planned shopping trip to a seaside town after they got cold looks for refusing to wear masks when trying to buy food through a window.
Shasta County officials said that Bethel’s cases drove the spike in the county, which is expected to go into further lockdown over the surge next week. “We’re one of the few counties going in the wrong direction, unfortunately,” a spokeswoman told The Daily Beast this week. “I would really encourage people not to pay attention to that misinformation,” county health officer Karen Ramstrom reportedly added on Wednesday. “There is only growing evidence around the benefits of face coverings and mask use to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
To be clear, overwhelming scientific evidence has found that proper face coverings do, in fact, curb transmission of the the deadly virus.