Mask study authored by LA County Public Health director’s non-MD daughter source for CDC’s school ‘guidance’

A study, cited by the CDC and the majority of state health departments as the scientific basis for school mask mandates, was authored by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, including the daughter of the county’s Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, according to Red State.

The study, published in August 2021, concluded that students who went to school during the winter of 2020-21 tested positive for COVID at a much lower rate than their peers who did not attend LA County schools.

The authors claimed that COVID mitigation efforts in schools, including mandatory masking, were very effective in stopping the spread of the virus, and therefore the protocols in place in the county were responsible.

Articles published by CNN, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, US News & World Report, and WebMD, based on the study all followed a similar pattern, beginning with the story of a teacher who allegedly infected 26 people by reading to her students without wearing a mask. It was emphasized that the teacher was one of only two unvaccinated teachers in the school, then pivoted to citing the study demonstrating that mandatory masking in schools works.

The study was used by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at an August 27, 2021, White House press briefing, criticizing those who did not want to comply with mask “recommendations.”

“We also have clear scientifically-backed guidance that offers a framework for schools to open and remain open for a safe and healthy learning environment in this unprecedented academic year ahead,” Walensky said at the presser.

“Adding to this body of evidence, two studies will be published in today’s MMWR that demonstrate the importance of consistent and correct use of these mitigation strategies, especially vaccination and universal masking.”

“In their first report looking at COVID cases in Los Angeles County, we saw the power of layered prevention. School-associated cases remained lower than cases in the community because of prevention efforts.”

“In schools with safety protocols in place, case rates in children and adolescents were about three and a half times lower during the winter peak compared to rates in the community.”

“Even when communities were experiencing high levels of COVID transmission, in the LA County study, layered prevention measures in schools provided a shield of pretension [sic], helped to keep COVID out of school, and reduced the spread when cases did occur.”

According to Red State, it was stated in the study that no conflicts of interest were disclosed, even though study authors are required to disclose any conflicts of interest. Ferrer is listed in the acknowledgment.

Kaitlin Barnes is not a medical doctor, and neither is her mother. According to the outlet, Barnes does not have a scientific background or PhD in any field.

An archived copy of Kaitlin’s website, which has been scrubbed, stated, “she attended the Boston Public Schools and graduated from Boston Latin School in 2004. Receiving a B.A. with a major in Metropolitan Studies and a minor in Politics from New York University (2008), her research focused on urban planning and policy, immigration, race and racism, and health equity.

“Kaitlin went on to earn an M.A. in Communication Management from Emerson College in 2012, focusing on stakeholder management, public diplomacy, place branding, and health communication. She recently completed an M.B.A. at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business with a dual concentration in strategy & innovation and health sector management.”

Before moving to Los Angeles, Kaitlin was the International Corporate Outreach Manager for Metropolitan College’s International division at Boston University.

Prior to that, she was a communications director/community liaison for both Berklee College of Music and Emerson College.

Additionally, she did communications for several political campaigns for friends of her mother including former Boston Democrat Mayor Thomas Menino.

In 2020, Barnes was hired by the Los Angeles County Office of Education as a temporary project manager in the Public Relations and Communications department and despite the fact that she has no prior experience in public health, she was assigned to work on the study.

The position proved to be very lucrative as Barnes was paid over $130,000 in 2021.

This week, Los Angeles County re-entered the “high” community transmission level, which could prompt health officials to reinstate an indoor mask mandate by the end of the month.

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