DENVER — As of this writing, more than 2,000 people have commented on a Facebook poll posted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) asking why they don’t wear face masks in public.
While Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) has not mandated face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19, he has encouraged it – and as have other health officials, though President Donald Trump said he would not wear one himself.
Multiple Colorado cities have mandated masks in essential businesses. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has said an order to wear masks in essential businesses could be put into place as soon as next week.
Of the more than 3,000 people who responded to CDPHE’s poll, 74% said face coverings were uncomfortable, while 26% said they were inconvenient. In the comments, people had concerns ranging from air quality to their civil liberties when it came to whether or not to wear face coverings.
For the purpose of education, we asked 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli to respond to some of the comments. Read the reasons for not wearing face masks and Kohli’s response below. We have edited some of the comments for grammar.
"Because a few weeks ago the CDC and health folks said homemade cloth masks were useless and they had a 0% chance of protecting us from getting the virus and a 0% chance of keeping the wearer from spreading the virus. The only effective ones were the N95 masks which the healthcare and frontline folks desperately needed. So now suddenly you’re pushing for us to wear the same masks that are basically deemed useless. 🤔🤷"
Dr. Kohli: Let me explain: the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a few weeks ago suggested that you should not wear a mask because it does not protect YOU very well. It does not offer 0% protection (it protects from large droplets) but it is definitely not the level of protection offered from an N95.
It also makes you touch your face more, so at that time, it was believed the risk outweighs the benefit. Since then, we have learned that a good proportion of those who are spreading this disease are people without symptoms and they are spreading this virus through just talking. Therefore, we are now recommending that people wear masks to prevent their droplets from getting out. We always knew that masks were good at preventing the spread of your droplets to others -- what we learned which was new and has changed our thinking is that the virus can spread from asymptomatic people who are talking (hence the masks) to protect others from your droplets. The risk of touching your face is still there, but if we stop those asymptomatic spreaders that will make a significant impact on spread.
"Because I do not believe in it. Virus immunity is obtained by people getting sick and developing antibodies. Masking has made people fear one another. Did we mask for the flu? There no cure for that either. A vaccine yearly that does not cover all strains."
Dr. Kohli: The seasonal flu is very different because it has been around for a long time and we have been vaccinating for it, so many people in the community have relative immunity to many strains of the flu. This current virus is also estimated to be 10 to 30 times deadlier than the flu. And, in this case, we don’t even know that having antibodies confers long-term immunity to the coronavirus.
So taking a gamble and allowing people to get sick when NO ONE has immunity because this is a brand new virus and one that is quite lethal may allow some to develop immunity, but we have to pay the price of many lives.
"I’m sorry but I have sports induced asthma and when I’m out running/walking I cannot wear it. Especially when I run. Walking isn’t so bad. But with the increased heat, it’s pretty hard."
Dr. Kohli: I know it’s hard when we are outdoors and it is warm. Maybe try to run on a treadmill at home so you don’t have to wear a mask or run in very isolated areas or at times when no one else is around? That way, you can have your mask on hand and wear it if you see someone but not have to have it on the whole time.
"I wear one but they can be hard to breathe through - like when walking up a hill and breathing harder in particular."
Dr. Kohli: It’s temporary but we do have to try to get used to it. Make sure you are wearing a cotton mask so it is more breathable.
"Maybe you should ask the question, 'How many times a day do you touch your mask and pull it down after touching every possible surface while in public?' Kind of defeats the purpose of wearing it 🤷🏻♀️"
Dr. Kohli: We touch our faces three to 30 times an hour and probably even more when we are wearing masks. Be very mindful of this as this will increase your risk of infection if you keep touching your face.
"Honestly it's hard to breathe through and hell for me during my allergy season trying prevent a sneeze and cough with the mask."
Dr. Kohli: It's even more important when you have allergies to wear a mask because you are coughing, sneezing and your respiratory droplets are more likely to spread.
"Because I don't like when a government agency tells me what to do, ESPECIALLY when that government does not follow their own recommendations."
Dr. Kohli: None of us like being told what to do, but having a coordinated national response here and listening to the officials is the best way out of this global crisis.
"Because if President Trump and VP Mike Pence don't have to wear masks then I don't either."
Dr. Kohli: Vice President Mike Pence has started wearing masks too now when he visits places.
"Oxygen is essential for my body! I like the freedom to breathe without being oppressed by CO2. Not to mention the curve is now flattened. This idea that we can stay safe from germs and death is not logical. People die every day as tragic as that is. Let the living live."
Dr. Kohli: If everyone thought like this, our morgues would start to overflow and the healthcare system would get overwhelmed.
We are not trying to stay safe from germs but doing our best to use the ONLY defense we have against this virus until a vaccine is available, which is masks and social distancing. The reason the curve was flattened was because we stayed home. Once we go out and if we don’t wear masks, we will start having the dead bodies pile up.
"There is research on hypoxia with cognitive impairment caused by prolonged mask wearing. Try some sunshine and better immune system building, i.e. healthy diet and exercise."
Dr. Kohli: There is no solid scientific evidence that wearing masks causes hypoxia or cognitive impairment. Doctors and healthcare workers who work in operating rooms wear them for hours a day and there has been no evidence that these people have had cognitive decline.
Watch the video below for a look at how to make a no-sew mask with a t-shirt and shoestring:
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