The silly DIY mask shown in the photo is, of course, just for laughs. In stressful, confusing times like these, it helps to keep a sense of humor. Occasionally, someone (apparently without a sense of humor or negotiating skills) throws a screaming profane hissy fit because she was asked to wear a mask. The other extreme, which I think you will agree is equally absurd, is the person who wears a mask in the car driving alone or when walking by themselves in wide open spaces or as seen on the news, former Vice President, Joe Biden wearing one while bike riding alone in the wide open spaces…I wonder if these folks wear a mask to bed?
Except in the final paragraph, I am not going to tell you what to do. However, I would like to shed a little light on the topic so that you will be better prepared to make an informed decision. Below are some pros and cons. (I start with the negatives because the media never mention those.)
Why to AVOID Wearing a Mask: (Many of these are quoted directly from the detailed and fairly well-documented website, The Healthy American (THA). Listen to the 8/15/20 interview with THA founder, Peggy Hall.
- A study (not yet peer-reviewed) conducted by the University of Louisville concluded “Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges.” (Note, they said “are NOT”.)
- This study concludes: Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy
- Masks allegedly reduce intake of oxygen to dangerous levels, leading to carbon dioxide toxicity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has documented the risk. Watch Peggy Hall’s video on OSHA, masks and oxygen. Low oxygen levels not only affect the brain, they interfere with immune function. The THA website has a much longer list of negative effects of low oxygen. However, some informal tests in hospitals don’t support OSHA’s oxygen reduction claim although healthcare workers wearing them do have more headaches.
- Masks accumulate moisture. Germs are trapped near your mouth and nose, increasing risk of infection.(However, contrary opinion says that the moisture makes the exhaled droplets bigger and more likely caught in the mask or to promptly drop to the ground.)
- Wearing a mask causes you to touch your face more frequently.
- There is (little to ) no scientific evidence that supports healthy people wearing masks. The THA site gives quotes from even the World Health Organization and CDC that agree about the lack of science. (They have now flip-flopped on that view. It does not seem to be because of new science but is apparently that their earlier negativity was manipulation to keep consumers from hoarding scarce medical masks.)
- The scientists in Holland did not find convincing evidence of a benefit and a US medical journal article said that outside of medical facilities, the main purpose of the masks was to help with anxiety.
- Masks obscure your facial features and impede normal social interaction.
- Masks make it hard for hearing-impaired people to understand you and they scare kids.
- Face coverings give a false sense of security and cause people to forget to keep their distance.
- They can interfere with your field of vision if not worn properly.
- Taking them off can catch onto and remove hearing aids. (Found mine on the ground in a parking lot.)
- Masks symbolize suppression of speech.
Positive Reasons to WEAR a Mask.
- Although the N95 respirators used in medical situations are more effective and better studied, there is at least some scientific evidence that cloth face coverings may help a little. This Duke University study ranks the effectiveness of various types. They help mainly to keep infected persons from spreading the virus because “they may prevent larger expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther.” This very worthwhile video shows how they function.
- You may be “required” to wear one by local government or by retailers. (Keep in mind that a governor’s or mayor’s Executive Order is a guideline and usually not a law that can compel a citizen to do anything. Police should only enforce laws not Executive Orders.)
- Makes people around you feel safer.
- Serves to remind people that there is still a pandemic.
- Keeps the peace.
My summary thoughts:
- I’m now convinced that it is probably smart to wear a face covering, especially when you cannot keep a good distance from strangers and when businesses make it a policy.
- While wearing one, make sure it fits well and covers both mouth and nose. Also make it a point to breathe deeply through your nose.
- Take the mask off the minute you can.
- Dispose of the disposable ones after a day of use and wash the reusable ones frequently.
- Don’t worry if your mask isn’t a color coordinated designer model like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi always has around her neck or those now available with fashion icon logos. I may get one with buck teeth and a mustache shown on it.
- Smile—even though probably no one will know.
- Whatever you decide about masks, make sure you keep your immune system strong with enough vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C and selenium. Obviously, stay away from not only sick people, but those young players who may have been exposed in bars or parties and not know it.