With reference to the letter to the editor, “Mask Madness,” given the rapidly evolving mask-wearing recommendations, one should be very careful in citing the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local healthcare authorities. The author’s statement, “If wearing masks does nothing, and is actually harmful…,” is baseless and constitutes dangerous misinformation.
Likewise, the statement, “Masks cannot prevent a person from contracting coronavirus,” misses the equally important concept that potential transmission of the virus to another person, referenced as “egress,” can be substantially inhibited with a mask, even a homemade one. The WHO references this in its latest COVID-19 “Interim Guidance” which states, “Potential advantages of the use of a mask by healthy people in the community setting include reducing potential exposure risk from infected persons during the ‘pre-symptomatic’ period.” This is particularly salient in confined spaces, like a grocery store, in a county that is populated by older folks.
Beyond the WHO community members should follow the learned medical advice of the CDC and our county’s medical authorities. In this regard, I encourage folks to read the April 24 “Hot Topic #19” entitled, “Why Covering our Faces Matters So Much,” by Frank James, MD, our San Juan County Health Officer. It can be found at www.sjccovid.com.
Masks are far more than “comfort objects.” Following Dr. James’ recommendations could very well save the life of a fellow community member.
J. Michael Edwards, MD, DDS, FACS
San Juan Island