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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Time to Clear the Air about Wearing Masks

Sep 29, 2020 06:55PM ● By Lance J. Morris
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of wearing masks has become the symbol for the line drawn in the sand between those who believe masks are essential and critical for protecting themselves and others, versus those who believe that masks are a farce, protecting no one—and are even harmful. This has also become the symbol between those who believe it is their civic, moral and ethical responsibility to wear masks and those who believe that wearing masks represents an affront to their fundamental freedom and autonomy.
   
These are radically different viewpoints. Is one right and the other wrong? Both camps seem convinced they are in the right. Opposing perspectives are adamantly proclaimed with supporting evidence. Let’s look at both sides of the story and try to offer a rational compromise.
   
Part of the public’s confusion has been exacerbated by a lack of clear guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relative to mask wearing. At the very beginning of the pandemic, their guidance was to wash hands and engage in social distancing only. In February, the CDC added wearing masks for symptomatic patients. It was not until April that the CDC recommended masks for the general public. This change occurred due to the previously unrecognized reality of asymptomatic people being vectors for COVID-19 infection transmission. In July, 31 states mandated the wearing of masks in public venues where social distancing is not possible.
   
To be clear, at no time has any physician or agency, medical or governmental, stated or even suggested that the addition of masks is some kind of panacea against COVID-19. What has been evident from the beginning is a dominant consensus among health professionals that the appropriate wearing of masks, combined with hand washing, wiping of surfaces and social distancing, decreases the probability of COVID-19 transmission and infection.
   
Both camps site several cogent arguments both against and for mask-wearing.

Against: Viral particles pass through any masks, including N-95s, as readily as the air we breathe. This is a function of particle size. Masks are excellent for blocking bacteria, but not viruses.
For: Although true, masks are effective in reducing the spray of viral containing droplets primarily from coughing, sneezing
and any form of vocal exuberance. This does not eliminate, but reduces the “infectious dose” exposure. There is a direct correlation with the “viral load at diagnosis” as an “independent predictor of mortality”. Therefore, low initial exposure increases the probability of being asymptomatic or having only modest symptoms and increasing natural immunity.

Against: Masks may decrease available cellular oxygen, while increasing carbon dioxide. This may lead to a decrease in functional immunity, as well as creating other metabolic complications.
For: This may be true, but much more with wet or contaminated masks, physical exertion or in hot climates like Arizona. In one local holistic office, when using a pulse oximeter to test oxygen levels of all patients wearing masks (including cardiac, asthma and COPD patients), all were found to have normal oxygen levels.
  
*Although there is conflicting data about the influence of mask wearing and oxygen availability, the general consensus is that masks are safe for most people. Reasonable guidance suggests only to use new masks and if exercising (as per CDC and all other guidelines), do not wear a mask. If outside in extreme heat, do not wear a mask, but social distance.

Against: Masks may contribute to increased anxiety and stress, increase pulse rate and blood pressure, increase the risk of heart or respiratory disease and may actually increase exposure to infectious vectors that are trapped in the masks themselves.
For: All of these points may or may not be true.

There are many medical journal studies both advocating for and against wearing masks. Upon careful review of both sides, some authors are misrepresenting or taking liberties with this data and then passing on their personal bias to the public. Finding the truth is by no means a simple open and closed case.

Keeping this all in mind, here are some mask recommendations.
• Consider wearing a mask when social distancing is not a viable option.
• In our own homes, we do not need to use masks with our immediate household members. If another relative or someone else visits and we cannot social distance, then a mask is appropriate.
• Don’t wear a mask while driving in the car alone or with household members.
• Don’t wear a mask in excessive heat or while doing vigorous exercise. Either use social distance or don’t do it. A public gym should accommodate social distancing, without requiring masks.
• Those 5 years old and younger do not need to wear a mask.
• Those who have a medical condition for which wearing masks is contraindicated (physical, emotional or mental) are not required to wear one. Cite the Americans Disability Act, if anyone asks.

That said, this last area is a bit tricky. When a business has a sign posted, “Masks Required For Entry”, we have a whole new can of worms. Overall, though, if someone won’t or can’t wear a mask in those locations, it’s probably better to turn around. Consider letting someone else do the shopping and/or order online.
   
Please be prudent and consider all of the above information and guidance. Let’s all be safe and respectful of one another while we navigate this uncharted territory.

Dr. Lance Morris is in clinical practice at Wholistic Family Medicine, located at 2310 N. Wyatt Dr., in Tucson. He is currently seeing patients as well as offering tele-medicine. Connect at 520-322-8122 or ResonantSoundTherapy.com. See ad, page 16.

*These findings are from Dr. Lance Morris at his Wholistic Family Medicine practice.

Lance J Morris

WHOLISTIC FAMILY MEDICINE - Tucson, AZ

NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Dr. Morris treats all conditions, pediatric through geriatric, emphasizing “nature cure” to heal mind, body and spirit. Developer of Resonant Sound Therapy. See web... Read More » 

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