You might say that there are two main parts of the social isolation aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. One has to do with keeping a safe distance from others to minimize any chance of catching the virus if it is airborne. Another piece has to do with wearing gloves and masks, and it’s the masks debate that has everyone talking.
In the past couple of days there seems to be a shift on whether or not wearing masks is advisable during the coronavirus pandemic. There are differing opinions, and Dr. Oz is speaking out on the topic as well.
“It is your patriotic duty to not use a mask,” says Oz, in a newly released interview. Now, before you go off thinking that this is the end of the argument, look closer at what Dr. Oz is saying.
Already there is a strain that the coronavirus outbreak is placing on the U.S. healthcare system and it endangers the resources we currently have and our ability to respond to the pandemic, according to Dr. Oz. But when Dr. Oz said “It’s your patriotic duty to not use a mask,” he was referring to the fact that we don’t have enough of them. It’s critical that healthcare workers have access to the masks first.
This past week it was reported that a community health clinic in Minnesota was going to possibly shut down because it didn’t have enough masks to go around. Some doctors and nurses are wearing masks in which the fit is less than desirable. And across the country, many healthcare workers are using either expired masks or masks that have already been used. You will not find these situations in a Best Practices Manual for the healthcare industry.
“If the hospital system gets sick — either the doctors themselves or the hospital can’t keep up with the flow — that’s the weak link in our society,” Dr. Oz says. “We can deal with this otherwise.”
As the virus spreads, hospitals across the country are running into a shortage of not just masks, but of surgical gowns, eye gear, and gloves. The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams called on Americans late last month to cease purchasing them.
On February 29, he said to STOP BUYING MASKS! He claimed that they were not effective in preventing the general population from catching COVID-19. Unfortunately, this is turning out to be more of a half-truth. Just today, Dr. Fauci and the CDC said they were revisiting the notion of whether masks were good for everyone, and they are leaning toward a “yes” verdict. The likely truth is that health organizations would like to see first responders, doctors, and nurses, get the masks first.
It’s similar to the story the airlines tell about oxygen masks that fall down from the ceiling during an emergency. They tell you to put on your mask first – otherwise you won’t be able to help out others, such as your children, before you yourself start suffocating.
Dr. Oz also talked about the shortage of N-95 masks. These are tighter fitting than the standard surgical masks and are better for preventing you from inhaling smaller particles. But because these are not every day, ordinary mask, you and I would likely have problems using them. The professionals get a special fitting for these masks and are set up according to very specific needs of the medical professional.
And again, if you buy one then you’re taking another mask out of circulation that doctors and nurses could use to save lives.
There are other masks, such as a surgical mask, that can help – even though it’s not quite as good as an N-95. Some people are making masks of their own, and still others are making them in enough quantity that they can share them with others. A fabric mask, made correctly, can provide some protection as opposed to having none at all without one.
Dr. Oz believes in the same approach that is becoming more acceptable. Yes, masks can help, but don’t prohibit the medical community from getting them first, until supplies are more readily available. That’s a win-win for everyone.