Coronavirus and wearing a face mask: Two points of view
Note to readers: We asked two Southwest Florida residents to tell us why they wear a face mask to protect themselves against the coronavirus and why they choose not to wear a face mask. There is medical evidence through studies and information from such experts as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and local public health officials from Lee Health and the NCH Healthcare System, indicating that wearing a mask, along with social distancing, hand washing and testing and tracing are the best defenses against COVID-19.
Guest opinion: Masks are the best COVID-19 defense for our communities
One of the biggest challenges the health care field has faced in attempting to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus has been the rapid evolution of new information as it becomes available.
Initially, as we were just starting to learn about the virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended people not wear masks in public, in part to make sure masks were available to health care workers. As more information became known about how the virus spread, the CDC updated its recommendations for widespread use of face coverings when interacting with others to help prevent transmission of the virus. This recommendation is particularly critical as stay at home restrictions lift and social distancing becomes more challenging.
As the only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Collier County that serving approximately 50,000 patients annually, Healthcare Network provides comprehensive primary healthcare for infants to senior citizens, regardless of their income or insurance status.
We know that when our community is healthy, we all benefit. Our staff wears masks, and we require our patients to wear masks at our facilities throughout Collier County because we understand what happens when vulnerable populations are exposed to the virus.
We know that masks are a key component to preventing the spread of COVID-19 for everyone, especially since research has shown that infected people can spread the virus before, or even if they never show symptoms of COVID-19.
The benefit of wearing masks is supported by science. When an infected person expels virus-laden droplets (through talking, for example), and another person inhales those droplets, the virus enters the nose and throat, finding a welcome home in the lining of the nose.
As the virus multiplies, an infected person may shed copious amounts of it, especially during the first week, before showing any symptoms.
When talking with others, a mask is the best defense to protect the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. Masks also protect others from potential exposure to the virus by reducing saliva and respiratory secretions from the mask wearer.
While masks are not foolproof, even a low-quality mask can block respiratory droplets. There is enough evidence to prove that combined with social distancing and proper hand hygiene, widespread use of masks could dramatically reduce transmission of the virus.
While we are all anxious to return to our activities and ways of life, the pandemic has not ended. There is still much to learn about the virus, but we do know this: interacting with others without wearing a mask and failing to observe social distancing recommendations increases the risk of viral spread for everyone. This is a time to come together as a community with strength and vigilance. We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and the vulnerable in our communities.
Dr. Corin DeChirico, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs, runs the clinical programs for Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida after more than 25 years as a healthcare clinician, leader and physician executive. For information on Healthcare Network, visit healthcareswfl.org.
Guest opinion: I don't wear a mask. Here's why
I do not wear a mask unless I cannot social distance.
According to the World Health Organization’s publication ”Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19: 6 April 2020”, There are many reasons to not wear a mask:
- self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask
- depending on type of mask used, potential breathing difficulties
- false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene
- diversion of mask supplies and consequent shortage of mask for health care workers
- diversion of resources from effective public health measures, such as hand hygiene
My wife has led a group of volunteers (including myself) that made over 2,000 cloth masks that were donated to Lee Memorial hospitals, New York City hospitals, the NYPD and other health care providers.
In hospital settings, or when caring for patients up close and personal, wearing masks is prudent.
I sense there is a political motivation to have all citizens wearing masks and trying to reinstitute further lock downs to harm the economy before the election.
To mandate masks outdoors or when physical distancing can be easily achieved is overkill and not helpful.
If masks were not mandated for protests that did not have social distancing, then they should not be required for other activities.
Rick Cannon is a resident of Cape Coral. He is the inventor of the Panel Lockout and Lollipop Golf Tee.