Yale’s student orchestra appears to be continuing on with masking despite the university relaxing its campus wide mandate late last month. Since the pandemic began, even Yale’s brass and woodwind musicians have been seen wearing masks equipped with a hole while playing instruments.
Yale announced that it would be lifting its indoor mask mandate, which had been in place for just about two years, on March 10. Calls to reimpose a mandate have grown as students and faculty point to rising case rates
Instagram posts from the university’s music department, however, appear to show that the Yale student orchestra is continuing to mask. Students and faculty can be seen wearing masks in most of the department’s April posts, including the orchestra.
Most notably, members of the orchestra’s brass and woodwind section appear to be masking as well.
Masks have long been discarded as a viable means to stop the spread of COVID-19. Among those who have made this claim is Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said that masking would not stop the spread of an aerosolized virus in February 2020, just before the global pandemic was declared.
“Masks are really effective for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Fauci wrote to American University President Sylvia Burwell at the time. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material,” Fauci continued.
Most members of the Yale student orchestra appear to be wearing N95 or KN95 masks, which have proven more effective than blue surgical masks. A study from Waterloo University found that such masks can cut down on infection rates, though they are far from full proof. The same study found that generic surgical or homemade masks — which accounted for the bulk of masks worn by the genral public throughout the pandemic — are essentially useless in stopping the spread.
Despite having the premier masks on the market, it remains to be seen how Yale brass and woodwind players will navigate having their masks equipped with a gaping hole.