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Washoe County Medical Society

The Simplest Action Makes a Big Impact

Jay K. Morgan WCMS President

Wearing a mask every time we’re in public or when someone enters our clinics, homes and other spaces is wearing thin for all of us. But now is not the time to get lazy.

Masks take toll on skin

For those who wear them for hours every working day, they’ve become an irritant making our faces look like we’ve been in a fight or had our faces in the strawberry jam. We are in a fight and we must continue to stay in the battle. It really is a simple action to combat a significant enemy.

We must be the role models and follow the guidelines. Encourage your colleagues, friends and family to also be role models. You can help by dispelling the five most common myths about wearing masks.

  1. Myth: I’m not sick so I don’t need to wear a mask.
    Wearing a mask helps to lower the transmission of respiratory droplets to others nearby. Wear a mask to protect others and encourage others to wear masks to protect you.
  2. Myth: Wearing a cloth mask does not protect you from getting Covid-19.
    Countries that mandate masks are reporting lower infection rates and fewer deaths. For example, on Sept. 16 Canada reported no deaths while the U.S. reported more than 1,000.
  3. Myth: Wearing a mask increases the amount of carbon dioxide I’m breathing and will make me sick.
    If this were true, many of us would be in trouble. We wear masks for extended periods with no adverse effects.
  4. Myth: Wearing a mask, eliminated the need to practice social distancing.
    Wearing a mask and social distancing are not either/or choices. They work in concert to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  5. Myth: I’m young and healthy so I won’t get Covid-19.
    This is an especially dangerous misconception and college campuses are seeing the negatives outcomes. Unfortunately, this misinformation was communicated often and early. I cringe every time I read or hear it reported that an individual has died who was XX years old and had underlying health issues. It just reinforces the idea that unless you are “old” and “sick” you won’t contract or die from the carnivorous.

Furthermore, if you are an asymptomatic Covid carrier, you could pass it to someone who is not so young and healthy.

As the death tally surpasses 200,000 in the US, among the highest in the world, it is clear that we as a nation are not adhering to guidelines as we should. We know that pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission is possible. We cannot therefore know who exactly is infected. It is evident from numerous studies on the growth rate of Covid -19 before and after mask mandates, that mask slow the spread. Studies on healthcare workers who are treating Covid 19 patients are also showing low infection rates possibly even lower in the communities that they serve with the strong indication that PPE makes the difference.

In essence, Covid will be with us for a while. We need to open up our communities, our schools, and our businesses. Anything that will help us do this safely should be used and used consistently. In a noted simulation study, researchers predicted that 80 percent of the population wearing mask would do more to reduce Covid-19 spread than a strict shutdown.

We know that transmission is primarily through inhaled droplets, and that mask ranging from a simple face masks to N95 face mask work to limit this transmission. This is not a political issue or a freedom issue . Like seatbelts – it is becoming a fact of normal life that this will help more of us make it to the other side of this Covid-19 pandemic.
As a UCSF infectious disease specialist, Dr Chin-Hong has said, lets practice the Three W’s to ward off Covid 19- Wearing a mask, Washing our hands, and Watching our distance.