LIMA — There has been mixed messaging on wearing masks while in public spaces, seen as a possible way to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
During Friday’s press conference, the White House coronavirus task force and CDC adjusted its recommendation to include wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain or in high-traffic areas. The CDC sites instances like grocery stores and pharmacies.
Previously, the CDC has recommended that healthy people avoid wearing masks, but Tami Gough and Kathy Luhn of the Allen County Combined Health District noted that the CDC had been considering adjusting their guidance.
“Most often, spread of respiratory viruses from person-to-person happens among close contacts (within 6 feet). However, recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19,” Gough and Luhn said a combined email statement to The Lima News. “More individuals preventing the spread of their own droplets will help prevent the spread of the virus. One caution though — wearing a mask does not replace the need for social distancing.”
In his daily press conferences, Gov. Mike DeWine said he too has been receiving a lot of questions about this, specifically regarding those working in retail.
“I would just like to take this opportunity to say that is just fine,” he said in the press conference. “We encourage employers to allow your employees to wear that mask … There’s still discussion on whether or not everyone should be wearing these or not, I’m not going to get into that, but I think that people in retail who want to be able to wear these, certainly should be able to.”
DeWine reminded that these are not the N95 masks that health professionals wear, but rather the breathable material masks that can even easily be made at home.
Victor Wei, child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Family Resource Center of Northwest Ohio in Lima, said he thinks the masks are crucial. He uses the example of Taiwan’s use of masks as to why it is an effective way to manage the spread of illnesses. Wei also pointed to a study that shows virus particles have the ability to remain in the air for 20 minutes.
“It’s all about viral load,” Wei said. “If we have too many (sick) people in the community, the community has a viral load that will stick in our hospitals and the whole community. How do you decrease the viral load? Everyone wears a mask in public … You don’t need a mask to go into surgery, you just need a mask to go to the store.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.