To Mask or Not to Mask: Why Are We Still Asking?*

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The American public has always been fascinated with masks. I remember growing up with fond memories of the Masked man who left silver bullets, Batman and Robin, Zorro and of course, Halloween costumes with masks. 

So with a country like the United States, why are we reluctant to wear masks, especially after we have lost 210,000+ people with a total of nearly 7.5 million infected? All but a few states are showing a spike in the number of infected individuals as people are tired of the disruption in their lives.

Is There Evidence that Masks Are Effective?

The Centers for DIsease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear masks in public settings or when around people who don’t live in your household. This is especially pertinent when other social distances measures are hard to maintain or don’t exist at the time. Clinical and laboratory studies have shown that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth, not under the chin which I see all of the time I’m out and about. 

Masks are recommended by the CDC as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from spreading due to talking, coughing, sneezes, singing or just raising your voice. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes.

Who Should Wear A Mask?

  • General Public
    • All people older than 2 years of age
    • Everyone out in public settings since COVID-19 can be spread by people who have no symptoms and do not know they are infected. As a physician, I look at everyone out in public as “having COVID-19”
  • People who have COVID-19 or think they have it
    • People who are sick with COVID-19 or think they have it should not be out in public. Stay home unless you need to seek medical care! Wearing a mask at home if you need to be around people or animals
    • Remember, when you wear a mask it helps prevent a sick person from spreading the virus to others
  • Caregivers of people infected with COVID-19
    • If you are caring for someone who has COVID-19, you can wear a mask. The CDC says there isn’t enough evidence to say that this is effective, but remember, wearing a mask helps prevent the spreading of respiratory droplets among us
    • REMEMBER – avoid close contact as much as possible, wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home often

Who shouldn’t wear a mask?

  • Children younger than 2 years of age
  • Anyone who has difficulty breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, unable to remove the mask without assistance, and those individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and rely on lip-reading to communicate

Where can I find approved masks?

Heart Safe Services is a US Company located in Huntington Beach, California. The Health and Safety Division of this company has access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, COVID-19 testing kits, digital thermometers and oximeters. Click on the red link above to get more information on what PPE is available and pricing.

*My apologies to William Shakespeare

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