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ADVERTISING: Advertorial — DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER: Mask or not to mask?

| July 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Right now we can’t go to Costco without a mask, or even to Washington State for that matter. So I started looking into it more and I found an article from the New England Journal of Medicine. For those of you who don’t know, this is probably the most prestigious medical journal in the world.

The article is titled, Universal Masking in Hospitals in the COVID-19 Era, published May 21, 2020. This article takes place in a hospital setting where the doctors and nurses came in contact with COVID-19 patients, not us walking into Costco.

The second paragraph floored me: ”We know wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to a COVID-19 patient as face to face contact within 6 feet with symptomatic COVID-19 for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes even 30 minutes). The chance of catching COVID-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.” So you have to come in contact with someone with COVID-19 and be in their immediate presence from a few minutes up to 30 minutes. So me catching COVID-19 from walking down an isle in the grocery store is minimal.

The other problem, which I have said since day one, is watching how many times people touch their masks. I was in line at a store a few weeks ago and the gentleman in front of me touched his mask five times within about 10 minutes. So, if his mask was contaminated with COVID-19, now his hands are and so is everything he touches until he washes his hands again. That is what this article stated. “What is clear, however, is that universal masking alone is not a panacea. A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active COVID-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves and a gown. A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early COVID-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of COVID-19.”

On March 2, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that wearing face masks could actually increase a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19, echoing remarks he made for people to “stop buying masks.” But he has since reversed course and now is recommending them.

Right now people are scared. Yes- cases are spiking. But the severity is dropping. Dr. Donald Yealy from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center stated, “We need to change our mindset and focus not exclusively on the number of cases, but on the severity of illness. We shouldn’t just be counting those who have a diagnosed infection,” Yealy said. “For the vast majority of people testing positive, their illness is mild, or they don’t even know they have any symptoms of COVID-19 infection.”

“Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play reducing transmission of COVID-19.”

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.