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Beacon Senior News

Face Masks: Opposing Viewpoints

Aug 03, 2020 03:45PM ● By Beacon Senior News

Wear a face mask!

By Carrie Luger Slayback

Face mask? Never crossed my mind when starting a 6:30 a.m. run down empty streets and deserted boulevards. Back then, masks weren’t required, so I hadn’t developed a mask-wearing habit.

After about 4 miles I found myself at the back door of my local grocery store, in need of a bathroom stop. Ignoring the “employees only” sign, I slipped in and did my business, planning to exit the same way. Whoops. A large woman guarded the exit, arms crossed over her chest. Resuming my run inside the store, I surveyed the aisles for a clear path, scooted along the freezer section and out the front door.

“There she is!” an excited security guard said as I passed through the store’s doors.

I waved innocently. Then I heard the angry voice of the woman, breathless from exertion, “How’d she get in? She isn’t allowed in without a mask!”

I picked up the pace, leaving the store behind like an escaping criminal from the lawless town next door.

My unmasked morning was an oversight; bathroom visit, unplanned. But, I’d unwittingly made a political statement. A neighbor told me, “Mask laws contradict my personal freedom! And they don’t protect anybody anyway!” I left that emotion-filled conversation to research COVID mask-wearing, searching for a rational approach.

When epidemiologist George Rutherford and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, were asked whether masks helped control the spread of COVID-19, they shared these recommendations:

1. Masks catch droplets expelled while talking. Admittedly changing recommendations have been confusing, but now we know that people spread COVID-19 disease droplets before they feel sick. In fact, viral load peaks in the days before symptoms occur.

2. An experiment showed droplets expelled when talking were blocked by a damp cloth. In “real-world” examples, a masked China/Toronto airline passenger with a dry cough later tested positive for COVID-19. All 25 passengers near him tested negative. In another case, two masked hairstylists had COVID-19, but gave it to none of their 140 clients.

3. According to Rutherford, 80 percent of the population wearing masks does more to reduce transmission than a strict lockdown. In fact, tens of thousands of deaths could be avoided if 95 percent wore masks.

4. No special type of face mask is recommended, just the one you can keep on and wear all the time.

5. Social distancing is important. While there’s little evidence that surfaces transmit the virus, what does infect are inhaled droplets. The most important COVID-19 protection, according to experts? Wear a mask!

I went back to talk to my neighbor with the above information. “It’s propaganda,” he told me, but then he read what I wrote and asked for the original research.

The next time I saw him, he wore a face mask and called out, “Look, Grandma, no droplets!” Fine, he can call me grandma, but I think he’s wearing that mask to protect his wife and new baby. As for my early morning runs, I always stick a mask in my fanny pack. No telling where I’ll duck in for a potty stop.

Why I’m anti-mask (It’s not what you think)

By Bonnie McCune

Has the world gone stark mad? Evidently. Especially when the daily news includes items such as this one: A woman at a San Diego dog park pepper-sprayed a couple for not wearing masks after flipping them off and calling them idiots for their social, moral and health errors.

This sort of rush to judgment and hysterical overstatement is one reason I back far, far away from the group I’ll call “mighty maskers.” Based on often preliminary and incomplete “studies,” these folks seek to enforce mask-wearing mandates under every and all conditions, despite intelligent skepticism and reasonable alternatives.

Why my hesitation to fully embrace masking at all costs? I’m of the duck-and-cover generation when parents thought their children would be safe during nuclear attacks if they followed the government’s instructions, despite the fact that nuclear bombs lay waste miles in all directions. I was having children during the time that thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women for anxiety, leading to thousands of miscarriages and birth defects. And, wouldn’t you know it, I entered menopause to cheerfully swallow daily hormones that were later found to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, breast cancer and dementia. Little wonder my current response to COVID treatment is a relentless skepticism.

So when I hear a newscaster claim, “The painful truth is [continuing COVID infections] didn’t have to be this way,” I respond, “Baloney.” There are tiny indications that masks may help certain people. But where are the studies about the dangers of constantly breathing into masks? Actually, there is some research that indicates a rise in respiratory and other illnesses from masks, along with burgeoning social and psychological ill effects. Masks encourage recycling (rather than the expulsion) of viruses and bacteria, some of which can enter the brain with potentially lethal consequences. Might people infected with major respiratory conditions because of this mask-swaddling potentially be as serious a problem as the pandemic?

David H. Rosmarin wrote in “Scientific America” recently, “There is no question in my mind that our emotional and behavioral responses at the present time are creating more damage than COVID-19.” Some people even believe these masks are not about protecting health, but rather about control and dehumanization. Since this borders on a conspiracy theory, I question this position, like those who equate anti-masking with personal rights. Beware of radicals of any stripe.

I’m mostly anti-mask because of the hysteria which surrounds the entire issue, with the compliance and buy-in of media, organized groups and even the medical community. We simply lack the information to unconditionally support any of the activities we’re swearing by. Both pro- and anti-maskers have gone mad slinging accusations against those in the opposition.

People are scared. People feel they don’t have control. Guess what? We can’t control everything that happens. We never could. All we can do is make our best guess based on what we see, learn and feel, then leave the outcome to the grace of God, luck or chance just as we always have. But please, let’s do it with some human kindness toward one another.

Read more opposing viewpoints.