Instigator / Pro

THBT Mask Mandates Should Remain Indefinitely


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
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Better conduct

After not so many votes...

It's a tie!
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Last updated date
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Two weeks
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One month
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Contender / Con

The one and only Jeff Goldblum said he'd like to debate this resolution as well.

This house (pro) believes that mask mandates should remain indefinitely. Masks are not only a tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also a tool to prevent the spread of the common cold, the flu, and many more.

Mask mandates: The requirement to wear a cloth/disposable mask in public spaces when there is no good reason not to (i.e. you can take your mask off while eating, drinking, if you have certain medical conditions, etc...). Does not necessarily mean mask mandates exactly in the way that have been implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (For example, Kindergarten to grade 4 students and teachers could potentially be exempted to help children learn facial cues).
Indefinitely: Without a definite ending; remaining in place until there is no longer a need, there is a more effective method, and/or previously unknown a reason to stop due to any sufficient negative comes to light.

This debate will assume that disposable masks are provided to public spaces by the government either for free or are covered by a relevant tax credit and are freely available to anyone at those public spaces who does not already have a mask on their person at that time.

Burden of proof: Pro must prove that there are good reasons for mask mandates to remain in place that outweighs the reasons not to. If pro cannot provide any reasonable affirmation of the resolution, the resolution falls and pro has not met their BoP. However, in light of any reasonable affirmation of the resolution that is even mildly convincing, con must present reasons the resolution should fall that, on balance, the combined reasons the resolution should fall are more convincing than/outweigh the reasons the resolution should stand in order for con to meet their BoP. If the combined reasons the resolution should stand as presented by pro are more convincing/outweigh the reasons the resolution shouldn't stand, pro has met their BoP.

Criticism, suggestion, and clarification in the comments are welcomed and appreciated!

Round 1
I thank Jeff_Goldblum for accepting and I look forward to a good debate!

1. Constructive Arguments
In my speech I will be presenting three constructive arguments:

#1: Limiting The Transmission of Sickness
 - Before the COVID-19 pandemic, society, in exchange for the ability to live our lives and participate in society, accepted a certain degree of transmission of sicknesses like the flu and the common cold. It's unreasonable to ask people to never leave their house, inevitably leading to transmission.
 - Societal acceptance of transmission is based on the condition that the avenues for transmission that we allow to exist can not be reasonably avoided to a sufficient degree. It's unreasonable to maintain social distancing in times of normalcy, but it's reasonable to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
 - Masks wearing is reasonable and sufficiently prevent transmission of many illnesses.

#2: Protecting The Vulnerable
 - Some people have weak immune systems or are chronically-ill. Every time they get sick, it not only represents a significant amount of time spent recovering, but also represents a much more severe illness than most would experience that has the potential of ending their life in some cases.
 - As a result of this, certain people are forced to regularly endure severe sickness and the risk of death in order to be functioning members of society or to even participate in society at all.
 - Masks will not completely prevent the transmission of illnesses, but they will limit their spread and potentially save the lives of thousands every year. Moreover, it would lead to a world that is more hospitable and livable for the most vulnerable. This is especially necessary in light of declining herd-immunity due to rising vaccine hesitancy.

#3: Living With COVID-19
 - COVID-19 is more than likely going to continue spreading and mutating into the foreseeable future. At this time, eradicating COVID-19 any time soon seems unlikely.
 - Even if COVID-19 becomes endemic, infects fewer people, or kills less of those infected by it, building upon arguments #1 and #2, masks should continue to be worn to ensure COVID-19 does not mutate into a super-virus and to avoid unnecessary deaths caused by the pandemic.

1.1 Limiting The Transmission of Sickness
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, society, in exchange for the ability to live our lives and participate in society, accepted a certain degree of transmission of sicknesses like the flu and the common cold. It's unreasonable to ask people to never leave their house, inevitably leading to some  transmission. Societal acceptance of transmission is based on the condition that the avenues for transmission that we allow to exist can not be reasonably avoided to a sufficient degree. It's unreasonable to maintain social distancing in times of normalcy, but it's reasonable to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.

We must keep in mind that our actions can lead to the deaths of people. This is not just a statistic, it is someone with a family, friends, hobbies, memories, and consciousness taking their final breath. Sure, you getting the flu might not be bad. Sure, you might really need to go into work. Sure, your colleague getting it might not be that bad. Sure, your colleague's mother getting it might be risky, but they should be okay. But when your colleague's grandmother gets it? Our choices, in that scenario, may very well be the indirect cause of their death.

It's important I say that, in the above scenario, it's not as though somebody decided "this thing at work is so important that I don't care if I have to kill someone for another day's worth of working on it." Humans have neither the mental and emotional capacity to think through if every one of their decisions may lead to a domino effect where they could hurt someone else, but nobody has the time either.

If your boss asks "can you come into work today?" You have 30 seconds at most to decide if you are going to risk spreading your cold to your colleagues and to give an answer, and you must make that decision in the face of all the other pressures in life that you have (fear of not being able to eat if you don't work, fear of losing your job, fear of making your coworkers work harder due to your absence). That grandma's blood is not on the hands of anyone who decides to go to work, but nobody would disagree that said grandma having even just one more day of being alive is probably better than not.

Nevertheless, our actions can hurt other people. I will expand upon the necessity to protect others in my second argument, but this puts into perspective the situation this resolution is about. Is any given risk of hurting someone else large enough that it justifies doing what is required to prevent it? Mask wearing is not a very daunting task and represents very little inconvenience to most people.

Two years ago, you could make the argument that it is a substantial annoyance to avoid a risk with so many dominoes that need to fall before that risk becomes a reality that it's hard to comprehend what each domino actually means, but that's not the case anymore. People have gotten used to wearing masks; many people even feel weird when they aren't wearing one. Mask wearing can lead to a threefold reduction in the amount of virus breathed into the air in people who have the flu or a cold, and due to the fact most infections occur due to being in close-contact with somebody for a very short period of time, that is a monumental reduction

This is just like washing our hands to prevent the spread of germs. To roll up your sleeves, turn the water on, wet your hands, get soap, thoroughly scrub your hands, wash the soap off, and dry your hands takes a minute at most, and the result is that you aren't spreading fecal bacteria on everything that you touch (and, if you enter the bathroom, fecal bacteria is unavoidable). According to the CDC, even such a small task can lead to:

  • 40% less diarrhea-inducing sickness
  • 58% less diarrheal illness in those with compromised immune systems
  • 21% less colds
  • 57% less absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in school children
  • Many other benefits related to reduced proliferation of germs and fecal bacteria
If somebody asked me "Hey, would you be prepared to spend, at most, a few minutes every day so that over half of the people who would otherwise shit themselves sideways by 9:45 or your money back are able to, y'know, not do that?" I would say yes before they even finished the sentence only if because otherwise I very well might, many times throughout my life, be in that 40% of people who would have to deal with that.

In summary, mask wearing is completely reasonable and does not cause a large inconvenience disproportionate to the risk it prevents (due in some part to already having widespread adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and is capable of preventing transmission of respiratory illnesses. I surely hope we all wash our hands so we can reap the benefits of preventing the proliferation of germs and fecal bacteria (if you asked me if I thought hand-washing should be mandated most of the time, I'd say yes). With that fact in mind, mask wearing is a similarly effective method of preventing different kinds of illnesses and are similarly easy to implement, and due to the fact we should protect other people when we can easily do so, therefore masks should continue to be worn and should be mandatory in most cases.

1.2 Protecting The Vulnerable
Some people have weak immune systems or are chronically-ill. Every time they get sick, it not only represents a significant amount of time spent recovering, but also represents a much more severe illness than most would experience that has the potential of ending their life in some cases. That grandma mentioned in my first argument? Imagine if they were a 20 year old, fit, healthy person with a condition that lowered their white blood-cell count. Some may be prepared to accept a grandma dying as the result of the spread of the flu because, if the flu can kill them (just as it kills 52,000 people yearly), then almost any sickness could and they will inevitably get sick eventually. That grandma already lived their life and their death at that age is natural. But a 20 year old is different.

A 20 year old has not had the chance to live their life. A 20 year old might not have finished college yet, might not have had a sexual partner yet, might not have had the chance to take care of their parents in old age as their parents took care of them, might not have had the chance to make the world a better place with their presence. The flu causes hundreds of pediatric deaths every year, many in children with no risk factors.

Chronically-ill people, even in cases where they don't die, should have the ability to live their lives unrestrained by the burdens of illnesses like the flu and cold. We may not be able to see this world through all the way, but it is critical to building a fair and equitable world that we do these easy little things that will make their lives easier.

Even if not for them, just protecting other people from having to deal with the suckiness that is the common cold and protecting the economy from the lost GDP due to absenteeism and avoiding making ourselves have to work harder to make up for sick colleagues who can't come into work in exchange for such a minor inconvenience seems like a worthwhile exchange to me.

This is especially necessary in light of declining herd-immunity due to rising vaccine hesitancy. With fewer people getting their annual flu shot year by year, these measures become more and more necessary.

Due to the imperative to protect vulnerable individuals, mask wearing should be mandated.

1.3 Living With COVID-19
COVID-19 isn't going anywhere more than likely. We've all seen the headlines, so this isn't new information to us (I would hope). The more the disease spreads, the higher the chance it will mutate into a more deadly/transmissible virus and the more people have to die or deal with the potentially debilitating consequences of Long-COVID.

Upon COVID-19 becoming endemic, measures like social-distancing and capacity limits may no longer be necessary. Both of these have their own consequences (inconvenience, lost GDP, worsened mental health, lower chance for social interaction, less chance to exercise, etc...), and so when said consequences become disproportionate to the degree of transmission that they prevent and the risk said transmission brings with it, it makes sense to remove these measures. Mask wearing does not cause these consequences, since it amounts to no fundamental change in one's way of life other than in putting a piece of fabric on their face.

Mask's are harmless pieces of apparel that can avoid these pitfalls while still meaningfully preventing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring people stay alive, don't need to deal with years-long Long-COVID, and that COVID-19 does not mutate into a significantly worse virus by preventing it from spreading in the first place. Even in the event COVID-19 becomes endemic, mask wearing will still speed up the process and save lives in the meantime.

For the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so we can ensure it does not have the opportunity to mutate again and to save lives, mask wearing should be mandated into the foreseeable future. If masks were not mandated, not as many people would wear them, and that's why I am arguing not just that masks are good, but that mandating their usage in most cases is a necessity.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Vote pro.

I would like to thank my opponent for inviting me to this debate. I am also appreciative of all prospective voters.

In recent years, as the broad majority of the American public has donned face coverings in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have found that illnesses we take for granted - such as the common cold and flu - saw lower transmission rates as a result of said masking practices. This finding, combined with the claim that mask mandates come with few-to-no drawbacks, forms the basis for my opponent’s argument that mask mandates are a virtually painless way to keep us healthier.

While I concur that mask mandates have kept us healthier in recent years (both with respect to COVID and “status quo” illnesses), I doubt that indefinite mandates would bring the same benefits we have seen thus far. Perhaps more importantly, I also disagree with the framing of mandates as a low-to-no cost policy. As I will demonstrate, an indefinite masking policy would bring steep costs, far out of proportion to whatever gains we might hope to achieve.

I will begin by outlining the threat indefinite mask mandates pose to public health officials’ credibility. Then, I will show how diminished credibility would (1) make it more difficult to overcome COVID in the short-term (2) impair our near- to medium-term ability to suppress future COVID outbreaks (3) reduce the long-term efficacy of a hypothetical indefinite mask mandate. I will then close by offering alternatives to indefinite mask mandates that would likely bring greater benefits and fewer costs.


(a) Promises Made Must be Kept

I hardly need to remind readers - who have lived through the same pandemic I have - that emergency health measures such as social distancing, quarantines, virtual schooling, working from home, breakneck-speed vaccine developments, and mask mandates, were explained to the public as just that: emergency measures.

And now, as case rates decline and each subsequent variant appears less lethal than the last, the emergency measures - as promised - are melting away. When CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced this time last year that her agency no longer recommended masking or social distancing for the fully vaccinated, she framed it as a return to normal, an end in sight for those under the protection of the vaccine:

“you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," adding, "we have all longed for this moment." (emphasis added)

The scientific establishment - the Dr. Fauci’s, CDC Directors, Presidential Science Advisors, and Sanjay Gupta’s of our civil society - defined these measures as temporary. A promise was made to the public: mask up, social distance, get vaccinated. We will get through this together. There is light at the end of the tunnel. This will not be forever.

A change as drastic as my opponent proposes, going from masks as an emergency response to a permanent part of public life, would be nothing less than breaking a promise made to the people.

Betraying this promise would jeopardize the foundations of public trust in government health officials, foundations that are already on shaky ground. Even without such a betrayal, large and vocal swaths of the population already distrust public health experts; anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers rage against common sense, asserting a “plandemic” intended to control the populace, referring to masks as oppressive “muzzles.” Though some might dismiss such thinking as conspiritorial and fringe, general skepticism toward the scientific establishment is not fringe: consider the 66% of Republicans who claim public health experts are “no different or worse” than non-experts at policy-making, or the 73% of Republicans who express vaccine hesitancy or outright refusal.

It’s also worth noting that this current sorry state of affairs is partially of public health officials’ own making. Readers may recall that in the early months of 2020, leading public health officials claimed masks were not useful for public defense against the virus, motivated by concerns of shortages for medical workers. The subsequent position reversal in April of 2020 and follow-on mask mandates gave ample ammunition to those already skeptical of - or outright hostile to - scientific expertise.

To do what my opponent proposes would be to commit the same error but on an even greater scale, adding more fuel to the fire. To maintain an indefinite mask mandate, in express contradiction of what the public has been promised for over 2 years, and in the face of fewer and fewer COVID cases, would lead many Americans to doubt the wisdom or intentions of public health officials. Given that a troubling number already do, our politics - and public health - can scarcely afford more doubters.

(b) Policy vs. Practice

Say we took the plunge and severely damaged public health officials’ credibility - what then? Beginning with short-term consequences and moving out to the long-term, here I outline specific hazards we risk by instituting indefinite mask mandates.

(i) Short-term: Finishing off COVID

At the risk of stating what is obvious to readers, I must begin by pointing out that public health professionals have long held that widespread vaccination is key to ending the pandemic and a return to normal. A failure to achieve widespread vaccination - also known as herd immunity - threatens to prolong the pandemic by enabling the virus to circulate through unvaccinated pockets of the population, giving it time to spawn new variants that are less inhibited by vaccination. Already, many have cast doubt on the likelihood of achieving herd immunity. Only 66% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and a dispiriting 33% have received booster shots. An 80-90% vaccination rate has been estimated as the minimum threshold for herd immunity. Even in a sub-herd immunity endgame, the rate of vaccination is critical to moderating the severity of an endemic COVID. Reaching the 80-90% mark, or as close as we can manage, is critical to returning to normal.

It’s the desire to return to normal, in fact, that motivates many to get vaccinated. But in a world where mask mandates are indefinite, the “get vaccinated so we can get back to normal” message would suffer greatly. Individuals who were apathetic about getting vaccinated, or discouraged by perceived barriers to access, would have even less reason to get the shot. Worse, individuals sympathetic to vaccine ‘skepticism’ would have less reason to take a perceived risk by vaccinating, and more reason to doubt the trustworthiness of public health officials (e.g. “if they lied about mask mandates going away, are they lying about vaccine safety?”).

In short, all our worst tendencies that have hampered vaccine-based herd immunity would only be exacerbated if masks were indefinitely mandated.

(ii) Preventing Resurgence

Once an endemic COVID is reduced to a low ‘background hum’ of cases, there still will remain the potential for COVID’s resurgence, just as ‘conquered’ diseases like mumps or pertussis still manage occasional outbreaks. Consider the following scenario:

It is 2026, and COVID kills about as many as the flu per year. This is not good, but a vast improvement over the pandemic years and is not taken as cause for concern by the general populace. A new variant with a high transmission rate is detected in Mesa, Arizona. Mesa’s population is highly conservative, and consequently, vaccine uptake has been well-below herd immunity requirements. Public health officials want the government and society of Arizona to move decisively to prevent a regional or even nationwide resurgence of COVID. Given the efficacy of masking in suppressing COVID, especially when compliance surpasses 75%, public health officials need the population to mask up.

Now, in light of the usefulness of a mask mandate in such a scenario, we must consider the impact of my opponent’s proposal. If my opponent had their way, and masking had been indefinitely imposed, the aforementioned damage to the public health establishment’s credibility would have been dealt. Government officials, still urging masking despite minimal threat from COVID, would not be taken seriously by a growing portion of the population. Naturally, as fewer people took public health officials and their mask mandates seriously, fewer people would comply.

This is a critical point: policy and practice are not the same. Health officials could mandate indefinite masking, but it is unlikely compliance would follow indefinitely. Consider not just the increasingly incredulous population, but also the people tasked with enforcing a hypothetical indefinite mask mandate. Many such “frontline” workers would be low-income retail and food service workers - many of whom would not be motivated to confront customers not wearing masks when there is no apparent reason for the masks.

Apply this conclusion to the 2026 Mesa, Arizona scenario. If the conservative population of Mesa had been told that they must keep wearing masks even though COVID has been a minor threat for years, do we really think they would still be complying with the indefinite masking mandate? And when public health officials - who have little-to-no credibility with the conservative population - push for renewed compliance with the mandate, do we really expect compliance to reach levels high enough to effectively suppress the outbreak? Especially in light of the 75% masking threshold for effective suppression, it is ludicrous to expect a sufficient masking response.

Conversely, if mask mandates had been dropped in accordance with COVID’s fading, the credibility of public health officials - while not in great standing with conservatives - would not be in absolute tatters. In the event of an outbreak in the 2026 scenario’s mold, we can reasonably predict that public compliance with newly implemented and temporary emergency masking measures would be much higher than under an indefinite masking regime.

Thus, the credibility of public health officials and mask mandates will directly impact our ability to counter near- to medium-term resurgences of COVID. An indefinite mask mandate would torpedo said credibility, leaving public health officials with less effective tools for combating future outbreaks of COVID. If instead we hold mask mandates in reserve, treating them as the emergency measure the population understands them to be, health officials will have the tools they need to prevent widespread outbreaks in the future.

(iii) The Long-Term Efficacy of Indefinite Mask Mandates

Looking past the near- to medium-term future of COVID, we must consider the long-term impact of indefinite masking on ‘status quo’ illnesses like the flu or common cold. My opponent is correct to note that COVID-driven mask mandates have had the bonus advantage of reducing flu deaths, for example. Consider the 2019-2020 flu season, which killed around 20,000 Americans - the lowest figure in nearly a decade. I do not dispute that masking kept us safer from the flu.

What I do dispute is that the value of masks demonstrated in 2019 and 2020 would continue to hold after years or decades of an indefinite masking policy. As amply demonstrated in previous sections, much of the public is unlikely to find an indefinite mask mandate - or the public health officials advocating for it - particularly credible. And as incredulity increases, we can reasonably anticipate compliance will decrease. This again brings us to the debate’s critical issue: policy vs. practice. We can mandate that everyone must wear masks for the indefinite future, but as COVID fades and the sense of emergency dissipates, the population is unlikely to comply.

This means the proposed benefit of indefinite masking - reduction of ‘status quo’ illness transmission and deaths - would not materialize over the long-term.


Accounting for the weaknesses inherent to my opponent’s proposal, I propose two alternative policies that would help us combat COVID and suppress ‘status quo’ illnesses like the flu.

(a) Pay Them to the Do the Right Thing

For every up-to-date vaccination, Americans will receive annual tax credits. The precise details (defining “up-to-date”, the prices, the role of dependents’ vaccination statuses) are immaterial to this debate. The superiority of this policy over indefinite mask mandates holds regardless. By granting a tax credit for vaccination, Americans will receive positive reinforcement for taking pro-public health actions. By granting a material incentive, the public is far more likely to comply. Additionally, this policy would likely enhance the credibility of public health officials, as they would be seen advocating for a policy that puts money in people’s pockets - always a popular thing.

(b) Seasonal Mask Mandates

Not every flu season is created equal. The past decade’s highest seasonal death count was nearly 5x as large as the decade’s lowest seasonal death count. This variability, combined with the possibility of mild ‘COVID seasons’ in the near- to medium-term, justify the occasional revival of mask mandates. Having explained mask mandates as temporary measures to combat an emergency public health crisis, public health officials could reasonably deem an upcoming flu/COVID season as threatening enough to require a short period of masking, either nationwide or on a locality basis. This approach would keep many of the desired benefits of my opponent’s proposal without sacrificing the credibility of the public health establishment.


To mandate masking on an indefinite basis would constitute a betrayal of the American people, a direct violation of the promise that mask mandates were a temporary emergency measure needed to combat a once-in-a-century pandemic. Ordering such a mandate would do irreparable harm to the public health establishment, compromise near- to medium-term efforts to control COVID, and fail to achieve any meaningful reduction in ‘status quo’ illness transmission.

On the other hand, offering tax incentives and applying mask mandates on a seasonal, as-needed basis would preserve (or even enhance) the credibility of public health officials while offering greater public health benefits.

For these reasons, we ought to reject my opponent’s proposal.
Round 2
I thank my opponent for his remarks. Seems like this ought to be a good debate!

1. Rebuttals
My opponent's arguments can be broken down like so:

a) Credibility and Broken Promises
 a.1 - Promised Temporary Masking
 a.2 - Reduced COVID Cases
 a.3 - Impact on Credibility & Vaccinations
 a.4 - Returning to 'Normal'

b) Compliance With Mask Mandates
 b.1 - Enforcement and Compliance
 b.2 - An Emergency Measure
 b.3 - Impact on Prevention

c) Alternative Solutions
 c.1 - Tax credits
 c.2 - Seasonal mandates

1.1 Credibility and Broken Promises (a)
a.1)Con focuses on how masks were initially presented as a temporary measure to combat COVID-19 and, because of this, indefinite mask mandates would reduce public trust since it was promised for several years that masks would not be mandatory when we had defeated the pandemic.

"COVID-19 will be over eventually." Became "We need to learn to live with it."

"You need to get two doses." Became "You need to get a dose every few years."

"The vaccines have a 95% effectiveness at preventing you from catching COVID-19." Became "The vaccines are nearly useless at preventing you from catching COVID-19, but are essential to lowering severity significantly and somewhat lowering your ability to spread it to others."

These are all examples where one thing was said pre-Delta and another was said post-Omicron. Though they may have 'gone back on their word', they did so for the sake of public safety and lives were saved because of it. Scientific consensus and public policy have adapted throughout the pandemic and should continue to adapt as new evidence arises. To do so is not 'breaking promises.' Does my opponent believe we shouldn't have mandated unleaded gasoline because acknowledging the harms of leaded gasoline would erode public confidence in health officials who had claimed for decades that it was safe?

Similarly, to not wear a mask in public settings can be harmful to others because of the transmission it causes. Of course, there's a difference because masks were promised to be temporary, however I see no reason that the damage to public confidence is different or more severe than any other promises 'broken' just because this particular promise has a duration attached to it.

a.2)Simply because COVID-19 cases are going down doesn't mean that people will see no good reason to continue wearing masks. I see no reason why it would be impractical to begin a public health campaign that says "We aren't doing this to protect against COVID, but we've learned that this can prevent transmission of other viruses and save tens of thousands of lives annually. Please continue to wear a mask in public spaces if you are able."

I'm a Canadian and I frequently see public health commercials and signs educating people on things like nail-fungi or proper hand-washing technique. Indefinite mask-mandates would easily be the biggest news story of the week allowing news stations to educate people on why we are doing this.

If we educate people on why we're doing this so that they can see this is not "going back on the promise that masks wouldn't be needed to stop COVID-19 when the pandemic became endemic," but rather this is "realizing masks have the ability to protect us from other viruses and continuing to utilize this low-inconvenience measure to save lives." Then this wouldn't be seen as betrayal, just following the evidence where it leads.

People would not doubt the intentions or wisdom of public health officials if we very clearly outline the intent and the reasoning which is irrespective of COVID-19 case counts. We are not urging masking in light of lessening COVID-19 case counts. We are urging masking in light of continuous flu case counts.

People aren't going to disregard public health advice if we give them good reasoning behind it. Of course just implementing mask mandates without saying anything would lead people to question what we're doing since COVID-19 seems to be 'dealt with' more by the day, but that's not what we're doing. People would still take public-health guidance just as seriously because the threat continues to exist. It would at least be taken just as seriously as washing your hands. I will further expand upon how even if 99% of people didn't follow the mandate, there would still be an impact in b.1.

a.3)If it were true that extending mandates indefinitely would greatly diminish trust in government to the point it would harm public trust disproportionately to the harm it prevents, we should therefore see trust decrease, shouldn't we?

While it is true that trust in the U.S. government has diminished since the beginning of the pandemic to today, this can be attributed to the initial sense of emergency that is always seen during crises. For example: after 9/11, approval for George W. Bush shot up 30% before later returning back to his pre-9/11 approval rating in around two years time (almost identical to the length of the pandemic as of writing this).

However, when comparing trust in 2019 and 2022, we see people are more trustworthy of the U.S. government than previously and have remained so throughout the pandemic in spite of the 'broken promises'.

The number of vaccine doses, vaccine mandates, the effectiveness of vaccines, saying on three separate occasions (pre-Alpha, post-Delta, and mid-Omicron) that the pandemic was over, mask mandates, ditching cloth masks for N95 masks, the list of change in health-guidance, or what my opponent would call 'broken promises,' goes on. After all of that, trust has not been significantly reduced any more so than would be expected to be caused by returning to what trust in the U.S. government was pre-pandemic due to the sense of emergency fading.

What we instead see is those who already distrusted government becoming more distrustful. In other words, further polarization and radicalization (a trend that is unsurprising and has existed long before COVID[1&2] and was greatly exacerbated due to Trump). Polls from 2019 show that the percentage of people who trusted the government's ability to deal with domestic issues 'a great deal' or 'most of the time' remained constant while 'not very much' decreased by 10% and 'not at all' increased by 10%.

Excluding the 2020-2021 high due to the sense of emergency I explained earlier, trust in the U.S. government is higher than it has been for 9 years (since 2013)[1&2]. Therefore, changing public-health guidance and 'breaking promises' to help save lives doesn't seem to diminish trust at all.

Combined with polarization whereby Republicans use any and every excuse they can get their hands on to further radicalize their supporters against the Democratic government and all the health advice that comes with it, any further decrease in trust among those who already distrust the government can be written off as happening completely irrespective of public-health guidance. Conspiracies do not act on logic; there will always be something for conspiracy theorists to get mad about, so trying to avoid setting them off is pointless. It's like taking a bullet out of an ammo box: it's something, but still inconceivably negligible.

To avoid giving conspiracy theorists more things to complain about is only achievable if they are subject to absolutely no authority in any way.

a.4)My opponent seems to believe returning to normal is only possible without masking. However, there are many other factors that go into bringing back the sense of normalcy. For example:
  • The sense of emergency/anxiety decreasing
  • Lowering death counts
  • Removing capacity limits
  • Changing back from online work/school to in-person work/school
  • Case counts not skyrocketing
  • Ending social distancing
  • Allowing large social gatherings
  • Vaccinations significantly reducing the severity of potential COVID-19 infections
  • etc...
All of these things listed are vastly more important for one's sense of normalcy to return. The ability to do what you want without fear of catching/spreading a deadly virus and without the sense that there is a worldwide crisis occurring will contribute to the sense of normalcy far more. Continuing to wear masks so that we don't make other people sick isn't antithetical to a sense of normalcy. We can not only feel like things are back to normal, but we can make a new normal that's better to live in.

1.2 Compliance With Mask Mandates (b)
b.1)The problem with this argument is simple: anyone wearing masks at all would represent an improvement and would save lives for minimal inconvenience. Wearing masks still has an impact even if no one else is wearing one[1&2]. Therefore, even if a majority didn't abide by the mandate, there would still be a measurable benefit to public health.

"...the people tasked with enforcing a hypothetical indefinite mask mandate. Many such “frontline” workers would be low-income retail and food service workers - many of whom would not be motivated to confront customers not wearing masks when there is no apparent reason for the masks."
Before I address the main point, I want to VERY CLEARLY emphasize this: there is a readily apparent reason for masks: protecting people from dying due to respiratory viruses that kill tens of thousands of people annually. We are not keeping masks to fight COVID-19 even after COVID-19 becomes endemic, but rather, we got masks to fight COVID-19 and we're keeping them to fight a litany of ailments that have plagued humanity for millennia.

Confrontation is unnecessary. Some customers would go batshit just for the crime of being requested to wear a mask, yes, but those represent an incredibly small fraction of people. A simple "hey, can you put on this mask I am giving you for free?" is enough for the vast majority of the population to wear a mask until they leave the building. If the customer says no, they're technically breaking the rules, but the worker can just leave it be. One customer not wearing a mask does not defeat the effectiveness.

The VAST majority of people aren't about to start a confrontation over a worker politely asking them to do what my opponent seems to concede is a low-inconvenience task. It's not worth the effort.

b.2 & b.3)My opponent claims that in a hypothetical resurgence of COVID-19 in 2026, we could reinstate mask-mandates and claims more people would wear a mask to combat the resurgence if the mask-mandate was not indefinite. The idea being that an indefinite mandate would lead to people not taking the mandate seriously.

Consider the following: Send an emergency alert to everyone's phone and TV screen saying "Hey! There's a COVID-19 resurgence! We're temporarily bringing back certain prevention measures." If people didn't listen to the indefinite mandate because they didn't believe there was a good reason to, announcing that there is a COVID-19 resurgence would easily give them good reason to put on a mask and comply with other prevention measures. Therefore, in any hypothetical resurgence, even if people did not listen to the indefinite mandate, people would still step up to the plate to save lives when that sense of emergency is renewed.

Keeping masks as an emergency measure does not necessarily mean people will use them in an emergency more than if they were a normal fact of life. The speed limit is a normal fact of life that exists for the purpose of saving lives and, in spite of the majority of drivers going above them, almost everyone will go the speed limit in the rain or fog because of the increased risk to others or themselves. Keeping the speed limit as an 'emergency measure' wouldn't be any more effective.

I also feel the need to repeat that there is readily apparent, easily explainable reasons that the mandate would continue to exist. This isn't just a random measure. People, if educated via a public-health campaign, could easily see a good reason to continue wearing a mask.

1.3 Alternative Solutions (c)
c.1)While this is a good idea, it is not contradictory to the resolution. Tax credits can and should exist to provide an incentive for people to get vaxxed without framing it as 'punishing' the unvaxxed. Regardless of the resolution, tax credits will be equally effective in making relatively more people get vaxxed than would have without tax credits, and therefore c.1 does not prove con's case nor diminish pro's case at all; it's irrelevant.

c.2)The problem is that the benefits of masking will be isolated to a fraction of the year while all the negatives my opponent claims would result from the resolution would still occur with seasonal mandates if not more so than with the resolution. Constantly ending and re-implementing mask mandates would make it harder to renew the sense of emergency that would make people follow the mandate, whereas an indefinite mandate builds a habit of mask-wearing.

2. Conclusion/Summary
I was intending to create a defence section in which I weighed the damage to the credibility of health-guidelines and experts vs the prevention of transmission brought about by an indefinite mask mandate, but I figured that it was self-evident.

My opponent's case revolves around a few main ideas:
a) Mask mandates will damage trust and credibility in experts and officials
b) People will not comply with the mandate
c) There are alternate solutions

However, in my speech I have shown you why all three of these ideas are unilaterally false or misguided:

a) Similar changes/reversals in health-guidance have not resulted in any substantial, irregular decrease in trust in U.S. institution's ability to deal with domestic problems. All that has changed is people who already didn't believe in the U.S. government believing in it less. This trend of radicalization has been seen since long before COVID and would happen regardless of the health-guidance due to Republicans jumping on literally anything they can to radicalize their supporters. Since the U.S. has a worse vaccination rate and is more polarized than most western nations, if the resolution succeeds even in this worst case, it succeeds across the world (excluding places it's possible [like in Africa due to poverty]).

b) 95% of people aren't going to get into a fight with every retail employee who politely asks them if they could wear the mask they are being given for free. It's not worth the effort. There are good, apparent reasons for the mandate to exist (that my opponent concedes to [lowered flu deaths, for example]). People would not simply ignore the mandate because they can't think of a good reason, the reason will be readily apparent.

c) The alternate solutions presented by con are either completely irrelevant to the resolution (non-contradictory and can co-exist without diminishing the effectiveness of the resolution or the alternative solution) or do not bring about the same benefits as the resolution while bringing about additional harms (constantly reintroducing mandates makes it hard to maintain the sense of emergency whereas indefinite mandates build habits).

Thank you for reading. Vote pro!

I’d like to thank my opponent for their response and any prospective voters for continuing to read on.

In her R2, my opponent provided a highly detailed, point-by-point rebuttal of my arguments. Rather than respond in a similarly granular manner, I will instead zoom out to the central issue of the debate that has emerged from our arguments and counter-arguments.

That central issue, of course, is the credibility question. Would the imposition of an indefinite mask mandate be seen as credible? And by extension, would public health officials and institutions lose credibility? I have answered “yes,” that such a significant betrayal of previous promises to the public would constitute a killing blow to the already wounded credibility of public health institutions. The repercussions of this lost credibility, I have argued, would make it harder to end the pandemic, make it harder to prevent future virus resurgences, and undermine one of the mandate’s claimed benefits: reduction of “status quo” illnesses like the flu.

My opponent, in contrast, has answered “no.” She has observed that public confidence in health officials has weathered multiple about-faces on various policies, that the announcement of an indefinite mask mandate would give public health officials ample media platform to persuade the public of its merit, and that those who would deem officials less credible (e.g. conservatives, Republicans) are already a lost cause, and thus should not be of concern for policy makers.

Of course, if my opponent is correct that an indefinite mask mandate would not harm public health officials’ credibility, then all the benefits of the policy she proposes would follow. By the same token, if I am correct that an indefinite mandate would harm credibility, then the benefits of her proposal do not follow, and in fact would bring the harms I have listed.

Thus, the credibility question is this debate’s key issue. In this round, I intend to reinforce my prediction of lost credibility while also refuting the points Pro has brought on this subject. I will then close with a few words on the alternative measures I proposed in R1.


(a) “This has happened before, why should now be different?”

My opponent begins by noting previous changes in messaging and/or public health policy:

"COVID-19 will be over eventually." Became "We need to learn to live with it."

"You need to get two doses." Became "You need to get a dose every few years."

"The vaccines have a 95% effectiveness at preventing you from catching COVID-19." Became "The vaccines are nearly useless at preventing you from catching COVID-19, but are essential to lowering severity significantly and somewhat lowering your ability to spread it to others."

She then claims that despite these changing stances, public confidence in government has actually risen:

“trust in the U.S. government is higher than it has been for 9 years (since 2013)[1&2]. Therefore, changing public-health guidance and 'breaking promises' to help save lives doesn't seem to diminish trust at all.”

Funnily enough, my opponent and I have arrived at the same sources independently. I too am familiar with this source on public trust in the government, but I do not see the data Pro claims. Whereas Pro says trust in government is at a 9-year high, I see a reduction in trust from 2013’s 23% high to 2022’s 20%. Given the dispute over interpretation, I encourage voters to inspect for themselves. As they do so, I encourage them to take note of the fact that confidence in government declined during the pandemic, from a 24% high to the current 20%. This loss of confidence, particularly for public health officials, has been linked to frequently changing directives.

More important than data on confidence in government in general, however, is confidence in public health officials specifically. On this front, too, the data supports my case. The percent of Americans who have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists has declined from its early-pandemic high of 43% to its Dec. ‘21 low of 29%.

So, when my opponent says that public confidence in health officials has not been harmed by frequently changing messages and mandates, that is simply wrong. When officials go back on their word, their credibility is damaged. If officials were to go back on their word with something as significant as an indefinite mask mandate, we can expect the loss of credibility to be proportionately severe.

(b) An opportunity to educate the public

My opponent sees “no reason why it would be impractical” to educate the public on the health benefits of an indefinite mask mandate, noting that the policy announcement would “easily be the biggest news story of the week,” giving ample opportunity for public education and persuasion. She optimistically assesses that if given the facts, the public will respond as desired: “People aren't going to disregard public health advice if we give them good reasoning behind it.”

With all due respect, I find this perspective over-optimistic in the extreme. Even with the ‘benefit’ of weeks-long, 24/7 news coverage of the mandate announcement, media figures and public health messengers would be fighting an uphill battle, owed chiefly to the media and scientific illiteracy of the American public.

Take, for example, a 2018 study that asked American adults to assess whether 10 statements were facts or opinions. Roughly a quarter correctly identified all, half fell within the margin for sheer guesswork, and the final quarter got most or all wrong. And on general civics literacy, Americans have embarrassingly little knowledge (only HALF of Americans can name all three branches of government).

And that’s just general media and civics literacy. Turning specifically to scientific literacy, the public is doing no better. According to a University of Michigan index, only 28% of Americans are rated as scientifically literate. (Perhaps the most disheartening statistic to accompany this study is the paltry 37% of adults who accept evolution as fact.)

Clearly, the media has not been successful in developing an educated and rational citizenry. So, when my opponent relies on the possibility of a public education and persuasion campaign to sustain her argument, she builds on shaky foundations. I find it much more likely that the public will remain difficult to move due to its media, civic, and scientific illiteracy.

(c) Writing off Republicans

Claiming that polarization between Republicans and Democrats will continue regardless of an indefinite mask mandate, my opponent argues:

“any further decrease in trust among those who already distrust the government can be written off as happening completely irrespective of public-health guidance. Conspiracies do not act on logic; there will always be something for conspiracy theorists to get mad about, so trying to avoid setting them off is pointless.” (emphasis added)

To be clear, I do not mean to conflate Republicans or conservatives with conspiracy theorists, nor do I think this debate would benefit from attempting to parse out to what extent ‘mainstream’ conservatism is conspiratorial and to what extent conspiracy is fringe to conservatism.

Without opening that can of worms, I think we can agree to the following: in my R1, I raised concerns about growing skepticism among conservatives toward public health officials. In her R2, my opponent argued that skepticism-prone populations are essentially lost causes, not worth factoring into the cost-benefit calculus of her proposal.

While I agree that there will always be a core of rabid, anti-science, anti-vax wackos who are totally unreachable by evidence and rationality, writing off skeptical conservatives is ill-advised in the extreme. Consider that the percentage of US adults who are Republican or lean Republican who place little-to-no confidence in medical scientists has risen to 34%, a massive increase since the early months of the pandemic, 15% in April of 2020. If we assume there are 119 million Republicans/leaners (46% of US adult population, which is 258 million), then we lost 22.5 million Americans to ignorance over the course of the pandemic

If we are prepared to write off such significant losses, we may as well declare that broad support for public health measures does not matter (and it DOES matter, as I demonstrated in R1 with sources on mask and vaccine compliance thresholds). Assuming my opponent is not prepared to do that, hand-waving away the segments of the population who would lose confidence in public health officials under an indefinite masking regime is not useful to Pro’s position.


Before closing out this round, I will briefly revisit the proposals I outlined in R1 as alternatives to my opponent’s plan.

(a) Tax credits for vaccinations

My opponent dubs this “a good idea” that is nonetheless “irrelevant” to this debate, on the grounds that Tax Credits for Vaccinations does not contradict her proposal for indefinite masking. While I concur that the two are not mutually exclusive, that doesn’t render the idea irrelevant.

In fact, this debate may hinge on the alternatives I’ve proposed. This debate asks voters to determine if Pro’s proposal for indefinite masking should be implemented. If, at the end of the debate, a voter is left uncertain as to the central issue at question - the effect such a proposal would have on public health officials’ credibility - they would be justified in deciding against Pro’s position on the basis that there is an alternative policy that provides public health upsides without potential credibility downsides. And, my opponent and I agree: the tax credit proposal would do just that.

In other words, a voter could justifiably reason: “I will not unnecessarily risk Indefinite Masking’s downsides when there is a policy, Tax Credits, that can provide public health upsides without the potential downsides.”

(b) Seasonal Masking

In my R1, I offered seasonal masking - potentially in anticipation of a particularly nasty flu season - as an alternative to indefinite masking. I argued that holding masking in reserve as an emergency measure would better preserve the credibility of the policy and health officials.

In her R2, my opponent inverted this thinking, arguing:

“Constantly ending and re-implementing mask mandates would make it harder to renew the sense of emergency that would make people follow the mandate.”

In some sense, I think this is a case of my opponent having her cake and eating it too. Earlier in her R2, she very optimistically asserted that if public health officials just got out there and explained their reasoning to the public, the public would be educated and persuaded. Now, when addressing the prospect of seasonal masking, her belief in public health officials’ communication powers seems to have disappeared.

Regardless, I find it counterintuitive to say that seasonal masking would undermine a sense of urgency. If masking is something we are expected to do all the time, it becomes mundane and un-extraordinary. If, however, every couple of years public health officials tell us to mask up in anticipation of a terrible, 2017-style flu season that threatens to kill over 50,000 Americans, the novelty of the newly-implemented mask mandate would generate a sense of urgency.

I should also note that my opponent misleadingly states that seasonal masking’s benefits would be “isolated to a fraction of the year.” Technically this is true, as flu season is a fraction of a calendar year. But if we are measuring by death toll, masking up during key winter months could have a substantial impact, one that would not be greatly increased by year-round masking.


In this round, I identified the key conflict of this debate: whether imposing an indefinite mask mandate would harm public health officials’ credibility. If we answer “no,” as my opponent does, then all the benefits of her proposal can be expected to materialize. If we answer “yes,” as I do, then we can expect the benefits will not materialize and in fact will cause a backfire effect that makes it harder for public health agencies to keep us safe in the medium- to long-term.

To refute my opponent’s “no” response and bolster my “yes,” I demonstrated that frequently changing guidance and messages from public health officials has harmed their credibility with the American public, which should serve as a warning against implementing a policy turnaround as radical as my opponent proposes. I also raised serious doubts concerning my opponent’s optimistic assessment that a public information campaign could easily get the public onboard with indefinite masking, noting significant deficiencies in the public’s media, civic, and scientific literacy. Lastly, I pushed back against Pro “writing off” segments of the population deemed lost causes, observing that dissatisfaction with public health officials' pandemic performance has caused over 20 million Americans to lose confidence in their leadership, a number of people we ignore at our peril.

Then, I defended my alternative policy proposals, showing that Tax Credits for Vaccines functions in this debate as a possible tie-breaker and Seasonal Masking as a credibility-preserving public health measure.

In consideration of the shared burden of proof, and in light of all the above, I believe I have earned a vote for Con. I look forward to maintaining this position in R3. Thank you.
Round 3
1 - Introduction
I'd like to thank my opponent for a truly excellent debate. I can sparsely think of anyone who could have made this such a thought-provoking experience.

In spite of how thought-provoking my opponent's arguments may be, I believe they do not stand up to scrutiny and do not outweigh the arguments I have provided throughout this debate as I will prove to any prospective voters.

1.1 - Clarification
In one of my sources, I claimed public trust was at a 9-year high even though trust is not as high as it was 9 years ago. This was a mistake on my part. It's actually an 8-year high (the last time public trust in government was at the current level, excluding the spike from the sense of emergency due to the emergence of COVID-19, was May 31st, 2013. The earliest data point from 2013 to the present where trust is lower than it is currently is from 2014).

I also want to acknowledge that this debate has focused largely on the US in spite of the fact this is a global issue. I will continue focusing on the US because that's how the debate has played out and I don't want to bring it to an entirely new place in my final speech, but I didn't want anyone reading this to frame this only in the perspective of the United States. This debate isn't really applicable to anything more than the developed world, though, because mask mandates should only exist where possible, and developing countries may not be able to enforce mask-mandates or provide masks.

Given many of my opponent's arguments rely on American polarization and ignorance, which far exceeds most of the developed world[1&2], this means the US is my worst case. If I can even half succeed at proving my worst case, my best case inevitably follows.

2 - Rebuttals & Defence
I will briefly touch on some of the new things con brought up in their previous speech.

2.1 - Tax Credits
Con claims that, if a prospective voter is unsure which side this debate should fall on, the tax credits alternative for things like getting vaccinated that they proposed could sway a voter to vote con. The reason this is wrong is that, as I said, tax credits are equally as effective whether the resolution follows or not. My opponent concedes tax credits aren't contradictory to the resolution itself. Having provided no reason to believe the resolution diminishes the efficacy of tax credits nor that tax credits are impossible with the resolution, tax credits are functionally irrelevant to the debate.

2.2 - Education
Con claims that, because of American's inability to do things like name the three branches of government, categorize fact vs fiction, or accept evolution as fact, the media has failed to educate people in the past and will do so again.

The media has never tried to educate people on these topics, thus to say they have failed because people are uneducated on said topics is akin to saying I have failed to land on the moon because I never tried. Even if it's technically true, it's functionally meaningless when it comes to understanding the media's ability to educate people if they tried.

Evolution and the branches of government aren't news stories. Even if they are, teaching people to understand them is not the focus (what happened regarding them is the focus). A week-long public health campaign by bringing experts on the news to explain the mandate would suitably educate people. Phone alerts, TV advertisements, emails, pamphlets in the mail, billboards and posters, etc... There is so many things that can be done to educate people on the facts. If they choose to accept those facts or not is not what I aim to prove on this point. I aim to do so in my other points.

3 - Themes, Points of Clash, Summary
In almost all IRL debate tournaments (irrespective of the debate format), it is expected that the final speech will compose of an analysis of why your side has won on the general themes/ideas/clash as opposed to claim by claim refutations and defence.

There are three major themes/points of clash in this debate:

In my previous speech, I provided MANY examples of how public-health guidance changed throughout the pandemic, and yet the statistics I proved still show that public trust has not gone down significantly. Yes, public trust has decreased since the beginning of the pandemic, but that is due to the initial sense of emergency fading (which always leads to more people trusting the government/leaders/experts as they look to them for security, safety, and answers).

Take the example of 9/11  that I gave: George Bush's approval rating shot up 30% before returning to normal after 2 years. Public trust shot up 5-10% during the emergence of COVID-19 before returning to normal after 2 years. In spite of the 'flip-flopping', if we exclude the 2020 high due to the sense of emergency, public trust in government has not been this high since mid-2013. This provides clear evidence that changing our guidance would not lead to a significant change in trust.

What has changed, as my sources in the previous round proved, is that those who did not trust the government already become further distrustful. Refer to b) for how I will address that fact.

Conspiracy-prone people are not 'lost causes' as my opponent claims my argument is saying. They are not to be thrown to the wayside and given up on for the crime of not understanding and being afraid of new things. We should give them lifelines and attempt to help them understand.

My point is that conspiracy-prone people are not driven to conspiracy by action, but by reaction. I.e., if people are pushed to conspiracy from a mask mandate, that occurs not as a result of the mandate itself, but as a result of conspiracy-peddlers capitalizing on the news to bring others into the conspiracy.

There exists people and organizations with a vested interest in furthering conspiracies. If you can convince someone that the opposing party is trying to destroy the country, you have effectively ensured they will never even consider voting for the opposing party. This is a no-brainer. It doesn't matter what the conspiracy is so long as you can peg it on the opposing party. If people believe you, then it only makes sense for you to continue peddling more and more conspiracies so more and more people only trust your organization for the news (*cough* FOX *cough*) or your party for governance. The more polarized the people, the less you need to worry about securing your base of support.

Therefore, conspiracies are no longer a topic of lunacy, but of politics. Those who have a vested-interest in continuing polarization, which has reached the point of conspiracy, will continue worsening polarization and conspiratorial beliefs for the sake of their polling numbers. Thus, since people and organizations will always aim to criticize every single major thing they can, any significant action of any kind regarding anything will push more people into conspiracy. How to prevent this general problem is not something I can even hope to cover in this debate.

Unless con wants to argue that we should never do anything substantial ever again, their argument fails.

Refer to 2.2. The figures and facts my opponent brings up says nothing about the ability for a public-health campaign to educate people. If we started a campaign on teaching people the 3 branches of government, I am nearly certain it would be effective in teaching people just that. However, we haven't done that, so saying that the media has failed to educate people because they don't know the 3 branches of government is absurd. Why would they bring that up in the first place?

News stories may focus on stories relating to the three branches, sure, but it is extremely rare that a story comes along that requires the news to explain the branches, and even rarer that the story lasts for longer than a day. It's the job of the education system to provide a rational, educated citizenry. It's the job of the media to provide an informed, aware citizenry.

In summation: in my speech I have given you reasons to believe that all the reasons my opponent has provided that the resolution should fall do not stand up to scrutiny nor outweigh the easily observable, proven benefits I have established. Alternative proposals either are not contradictory nor made less effective due to the resolution or are less effective than the resolution for the reasons I provided earlier.

It is not in question that the resolution would save lives. What is in debate is if the damage to public trust would be so significant that it means we should leave the thousands we could have saved to die. If I can prove it isn't, I have won. For all the reasons I have provided, I have proven that, therefore I have won this debate.

4 - Conclusion
This debate will probably be my last on this site for a good while (the other debate I am in will likely end before Jeff can finish their last speech). With that in mind, I couldn't have hoped for a better sendoff.

In this debate, voters have been asked to weigh the impact an indefinite mandate would have on saving lives vs the damage to public trust/confidence in government and in experts. That is the central clash.

Voters have been shown many aspects of that clash, primarily about trust, ignorance, and education. Both sides have attempted to diminish the impact of their opponent's case (proving indefinite mandates would be largely ineffective for whatever reason, proving public trust/confidence would not be diminished all that much for whatever reason).

Regarding trust, I have shown good, statistical reasons to believe that trust has not significantly diminished as a result of changing public health guidance ('flip-flopping') as my opponent claims would occur should the resolution follow. I do not see any substantive reason that this time would be different especially when we're talking about measures that will save thousands of lives every year.

Regarding ignorance, I have proven that what my opponent would call 'losing people to ignorance' is, more accurately, polarization and polarization alone. Polarization is a phenomenon that will occur irrespective of public-health guidance due to many people and organizations that have a vested interest in furthering polarization as I have proven.

Regarding education, I have given great reason to believe that ample education is more than possible and my opponent's examples that attempt to claim the contrary aren't capable of proving otherwise.

It is for all these reasons I believe this resolution can, should, and must follow.

To those who still yet remain unconvinced, I ask this question: If we can't take action to save lives because, no matter what, certain people and organizations will take every last opportunity to criticize public-health guidance for their own benefit (thereby furthering distrust and polarization), is that not an argument to never do anything at all?

Each and every policy is a target. Each and every law and perceived 'infringement' on one's rights will cause the same problems my opponent has described, and yet, to argue we should never do anything is absurd. Especially when we're talking about saving lives.

We wash our hands to keep ourselves and others healthy. We wear condoms to keep ourselves and our partners safe. We wear oven mitts to keep ourselves safe and to keep our food from being dropped. We take protections necessary to care for ourselves and others.

I see this as nothing less than the unavoidable, logical conclusion of that philosophy.

Thank you.

I regret that I will be unable to finish this final round. To be clear, this is not a concession. I ask that voters judge the arguments as they stand.

My thanks to Pro for an excellent debate. I am sorry I could not end it on a good note.