Live from Nashville, Tennessee Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Jeff Webb, founder and chairman of The New American Populist, joined Leahy to discuss the need for masks on a national scale.
During the third hour, Webb questioned why the federal government has been vague and uncommitted regarding the use of masks by Americans while unfairly providing contradictory information. He cited required mask protocols taken by South Korea and Taiwan to be effective in decreasing the spread of the coronavirus and urged people to wear them when venturing out in public.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend, Jeff Webb. He’s the founder of Varsity Brands and also the founder of a political group called The American Populist. Jeff, you and I have been talking quite a bit about what the government should and shouldn’t do. And one of the things that you have really pressed home on is about the use of a mask. I by the way so you can hear it, there’s my mask. I am wearing a mask this morning.
Webb: Good. (Chuckles)
Leahy: The government has been confusing about this. What’s going on there?
Webb: Good morning. Yes, I think it has been confusing. It’s very disappointing. I’m not sure about the motivation behind it. I think it’s not been fair to the American people. So I think everybody understands and there will be time to find out why exactly this has happened and who’s responsible. I think everybody understands that there is a shortage of N-95 masks.
Leahy: Just to be clear, the N-95 is a more developed mask typically used in hospitals. That’s not the kind of mas that I’m wearing. I’m just wearing one of these smaller masks that you can buy at Kroger. That’s what I’m wearing today.
Webb: Right. The difference is this about the N-95 mask. And you’re right That mask has some effectiveness in not only preventing you from potentially infecting someone as you exhale or potentially cough or whatever as you’re talking. But it also blocks from the inside. So its got that kind of thickness. So it works two ways. And that’s one thing. We understand that there’s a shortage.
We understand that they need to go to hospital workers and doctors. I think everybody understands why. And I think we are really working about getting as many of those as we can. From the information I have from various sources I think that’s happening. But we need to keep the pressure on that. But beyond that is a different issue to your point, Mike is that the type of mask that you are wearing or the type of mask that you see surgeons wear and doctors wearing when getting ready to prepare surgery, that’s not an N-95 mask.
That’s strictly to keep the doctor from infecting the patient. Well, if we have everyone as they did in South Korea, if everybody put on some type of mask, like the mask you have or a bandana, or a scarf, anything that covers the nose and the mouth people if they go outside we would be effectively illuminating one of the main ways that this virus is spreading. It’s through breathing. It’s through coughing and so on.
I cannot understand. It’s what they did in South Korea. South Korea and Taiwan both have a handle on this virus. Its limited damage much quicker than we have and we should be looking at why they did. And one of the reasons is that they require universal masking for people when they went outside. We starting to see this in Los Angels. I think it’s been required.
This has been required. I think Mayor DeBlasio has called for the same thing in New York. But, this needs to be a national program. We just need to have everybody wearing their mask when they go outside until we really get over the hump on this.
Leahy: It makes a lot of logical common sense. The surgeon general who seems like a nice fellow has had very conflicting information at the White House. You kind of have this federal healthcare bureaucracy that moves very slowly. I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on the radio. You are not a doctor. You don’t play one as a radio guest. But you are a very smart businessman. You created essentially a huge company.
You created an industry from scratch and you did it by using common sense. Now to me, it’s just common sense. You may look a little goofy if you wear a mask, not an N-95 or the kind I’m wearing right now. But it seems to me to be a barrier for the movement of the virus. Is that the kind of common sense that a business leader looks at when they are trying to make an important decision?
Webb: Yes I guess so. Let me take it a little bit further. Talking about common sense. If a mask like you are talking about that they are being. If it doesn’t work why does every surgeon in the country have that mask on before they do surgery?
Of course, it stops the external spread. It stops us from infecting those that we are in front of. To me, it’s been infuriating. I was very disappointed when I heard Dr. Birx yesterday being asked about this kind of bill thing finally. You and I have been talking about this and various people about the mask for two weeks now. Why have we not moved past this? And this issue was starting to really bubble up and become more accepted.
And I heard her say one of the reasons we haven’t recommended a mask is we don’t want people to have a false sense of security. I think she’s done a really good job but that’s just such a condescending comment. Are the American people are not smart enough to put on their mask and maintain social distancing? It works.
Leahy: You are exactly right. I look at this and I say well, I’m washing the hands for 20 seconds. I’m keeping the six feet away from everybody. And I’m adding now to that the mask when I’m outside the house or any place public.
I have to say the comments from the federal healthcare bureaucracy here even though I think Dr. Birx is doing a good job. And the surgeon general seems to be doing a good job; it seems to me. But these are kind of condescending comments. I mean goodness gracious it’s just common sense. I think we’re kind of lacking a bit of that here.
Webb: I know that President Trump has had to wade into this federal healthcare bureaucracy and move it and turn it and make it more efficient and more responsive. He’s done a good job of that in many ways. Including the FDA. I don’t think that’s totally fixed either. But he’s done a really amazing job. But I also don’t see this bureaucracy.
I think we are trying to move fast and that some of these things could move faster. We were building was very simple. Get better. Go faster. Just think about that. Try to do everything better, but always try to go faster. No matter how fast you are going, try to go faster till it gets down to speed to market. I think there are scientists leading this charge here and it’s fine that they are able to give us the data tracks and how everything is going.
But this is the sort of thing that should take a leader to say, “Ok it’s common sense here. This is going to work.” Look what it did in South Korea. Look what it did in Taiwan. Are we going to get the American people to understand they still have to have social distancing? And the answer is yes. And its move. And it’s move now.
Leahy: Here’s the good news about this. This whole wear a mask thing, you don’t need the president to tell you that. You don’t need Deborah Birx to tell you that. You don’t need the governor or the mayor. I think these are in low supply now but we got these a couple of weeks ago at Kroger.
Or you can put your own little mask together. Just wear a scarf or anything like that. Its better than nothing. And right now in the next three or four months, it’s critical as we move towards the peak you don’t want to get this contagious thing at all.
Webb: No. And the type of mask that you are talking about is much more available on the world market. But if we are short of them then the government needs to go on the international market and find these and bring them to our country. I don’t want to get to off the track. There is another type of mask that’s called KM and that is made in China.
And it has not been approved by the FDA. And it is supposedly like one layer of thickness. It’s not what the doctors are wearing. But its pretty darn good. From what I’ve heard speaking with very reliable people that there are tens of millions of those masks in warehouses even in this country. And we need to get those too and let people start wearing them.
Leahy: You know a guy who thinks like you is Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. Apparently, he sent a plane over to China and picked up a million masks and is flying them here to the United States.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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