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With a mandatory mask bylaw starting in Calgary on Saturday, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compile my thinking on the early days of the mask advocacy. Seems so long ago... 1/x
Back in mid-March, COVID was rearing its head on the horizon in Calgary. Probably like every other health professional, I started reading voraciously on the topic. And the most powerful bit of information was the copious amount of asymptomatic patients, and transmission. 2/x
I began suggesting to our medical leaders that we really needed to do universal masking in the ER, for fear of it becoming a main source of transmission, and that our MD and nursing colleagues were at high risk. I didn't gain much headway. 3/x
It quickly became apparent that the resistance was from high-level advisors that didn't understand the occurrence of asymptomatic (asxatic) spread. And discounted nosocomial spread was occurring. So I put together this bibliography on the topic: docs.google.com/document/d/16Z… 4/x
I didn't make much headway. On March 25th, BC instituted mandatory masking in all health care facilities. The same occurred in Alberta on April 11th. By then, COVID had begun ripping through LTC facilities. It was too late, so many preventable deaths. 5/x
Meanwhile, in late March, I started getting a sore throat (ironically, I blame this on the masks I was wearing continuously at work). Despite testing -ve, I still had to self-isolate for ten days. Which gave me a lot of time to read, and think, about covid. 6/x
It quickly became clear that due to asxatic spread, not only did we need to be masking in the ER, we all needed to be masking when in high risk locations. The curve had been successfully bent in East Asia, yet we were discounting the role of universal masking in their success.7/x
Over social media I linked up with @GibtrotterMD and Jacqui Hakes, and we put together this op/ed for @CBCNews , read by over 135,000 Canadians. cbc.ca/news/opinion/o… It dropped the morning after the CDC endorsed masks, and 3 days before Tam did. 8/x
Also around this time, I launched a facebook page devoted to the topic, with my good friend @TheGentYYC, which is still going strong: facebook.com/masksforallcan… It's still going strong, but with more of an Alberta bent now. 9/x
Meanwhile, in late March, Czechia, Austria, and Poland all started mandatory masking. There had been a ton of statements regarding "Canadians are so culturally different from Asians" that I thought this Central European policy might inform the Canadian discussion on masks. 10/x
Since each country started masking about a week apart, I figured we might see the fingerprint of this impacting mortality about three weeks later. So I started the DUMEE (Daily Universal Mask Experiment in Europe). Every day a new graph. 11/x
Soon enough, a pattern showed up. Those three countries did start to bend the mortality curve. Sure there were confounders, and sure the pattern wasn't perfect, but there certainly wasn't exponential growth happening. 12/x
About mid-April, I thought the pattern was strong enough for another op/ed, this time using the DUMEE to discuss the option of mandatory masking in Canada, in @macleans. 13/x macleans.ca/society/health…
By now, a bunch of other doctors and citizens started reaching out to me with similar concerns. Montreal was by this time battling one of the most intense outbreaks on the planet, and Leigh MacIntyre and Avinash Sinha proposed another op/ed. 14/x calgaryherald.com/opinion/column…
We were starting to build momentum. By this time, our public health doctors had now "strongly endorsed" masking, but we still had no mandates, anywhere. So many citizens were now distressed by our lack of action on masks, that we needed to build an organization. 15/x
On May 11th I sent out this tweet. 25 interested parties responded, including @danfurst @KashPrime @AmyTanMD @jkwan_md @GibtrotterMD Joseph Tsang Andy Wong, and many others. @masks4canada #masks4canada was born. 16/x
Our first effort was an online debate between myself and @TheSGEM.The goal was to get Canadians discussing the topic (it was still very quiet out there). It was viewed 100s of times, and shared by the likes of @picardonhealth and @NightShiftMD. Suddenly, we were talked about.17/x
Around this time, my world was in upheaval. Alongside of being co-chair of the @ClimateHubYYC, I had just become interim president of @CAPE_Doctors. And my family was moving back home, having been at the in-laws for three months to lower their risk of getting COVID. 18/x
It was too much to lead yet another organization. But with so many competent, passionate people working on #masks4canada @masks4canada, it was easy to step back and continue to focus on my main concern: the climate crisis. 19/x
Then: victory in Montreal, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and now, every day, new victories in Alberta. Still lots to be done: the rest of Alberta, the rest of Canada, and SCHOOLS! and I continue to be involved on the side. It's wonderful to help change the world positively. 20/x
But, as COVID grinds on, we can't lose sight that we have multiple ongoing crises: the biodiversity, climate, and plastics crises. If you care about the future, please get involved. Locally, join @ClimateHubYYC. Nationally, @CAPE_Doctors. we need your $$ and your time. 21/x
Finally, some thanks. Internationally to @CamWoodsum @jeremyphoward and @trishgreenhalgh for their wisdom and writing. To @SharkawyMD @DFisman for standing up early and loud on masks from an academic perspective. 22/x
to @KennedyGCK Anoop Manocha and @EddyLang1 for supporting me through the tough early times. To my wife and kids for putting up with all this busyness. And to all my colleagues and friends who believed in me when I was a lone voice in the wilderness. 22/22 fin.
(FYI this was the tweet thread that self deleted a week ago, and I have only now finally recreated)
Here's the link to the debate:
See below: Correction by Andy Wong

To be absolutely correct, that's when Masks4Canada "coalition" started but actually Masks4Canada group from the East started a few weeks earlier! And we are very glad to be involved.😀
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