There is a lot of debate about whether Tampa Bay area counties and cities should continue with ordinances mandating masks or other face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus.
On MidPoint we heard public comments from Pinellas County residents during a commission meeting earlier in September about extending the county’s coronavirus emergency order. Some of them supported the mask mandate ordinance and some people opposed it. We also took comments from listeners.
This month the CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, was questioned in the U.S. Senate. Here’s what Redfield said about masks while answering questions from Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
“I’m not going to comment directly about the President but I am going to comment as the CDC director that facemasks are the most important powerful public health tool we have.
“And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings.
“As I’ve said, if we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks, we’d bring this pandemic under control.
“We have clear scientific evidence they work and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take the COVID vaccine because the immunogenicity may be 70%. And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will.
“So I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18-to-25-year-olds where we’re seeing the outbreak in America continue to go like this because we haven’t got the acceptance, the personal responsibility we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask.”
Two issues came up in the public comment: are masks useful and can they poison you?
Here’s what Mayo Clinic Health System says:
“For many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions. The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks while in public, and this option is very breathable. There is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe. If you feel uncomfortable in your mask, try to limit your talking and breathe through your nose. That will reduce the humidity level in your mask.”
“A cloth mask is worn to help protect others in case you have the virus. Countries that required face masks, testing, isolation and social distancing early in the pandemic seem to have had some success slowing the disease’s spread. Common sense also suggests that some protection is better than none. Cloth masks reduce the number of respiratory droplets a person releases into the air when talking, sneezing or coughing. The overall number of droplets in the air is reduced when more people wear masks, and this reduces the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.”
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