Masking or not

Published 1:06 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Letter to the Editor


Masking or not

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I generally read the column, “Life on the Farm” with great interest and enjoyment. However, occasionally the author wanders from topics related to the title of his column. As with Hollywood celebrities, just because a person has a “pulpit” doesn’t mean his/her opinions are more important than anyone else’s. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are factual. Apparently, the author believes that anyone who doesn’t wear a mask in public is a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who doesn’t care if you die. Pretty strong opinion there from a farmer.

I have been a health professional for over 40 years and have worn many a surgical mask in my time. I wore them in hospitals and clinics, in controlled indoor environments for their intended use. I changed them often, as needed, and didn’t wear the same mask from place to place, patient to patient, indoors and outdoors. I knew how to put them on and take them off properly to avoid cross-contamination.

There is absolutely no science that indicates that wearing a mask in a large store, for instance, does anything to help the user or people s/he may be in contact with. In fact, just my simple observations show the opposite. I’ve watched people with masks touch their faces more often than they would otherwise because the mask chafes or is itchy. I’ve watched them pull the mask down to speak. I’ve watched folks exit the store and throw their mask on their dashboard or passenger seat. If a person is handling multiple items in a large store and touches their face, nose or eyes s/he has a larger chance of then transmitting the virus to self and others. And don’t get me started on bandanas and masks re-used over and over – basically petri dishes for Covid and much more.

And I would just love to see the science of wearing a mask at the beach – on the wet sand, of course, as ordered by the mayor of LA.

To bring some science to this, between 40 and 51% of all deaths from Covid in the US have been in adult care facilities. You might want to read that again as you ponder the effects of Covid on the general public. Here in Polk County, there have been 31 cases and 3 deaths. Seventeen of those cases (51%) have been in adult care facilities as well as all 3 deaths. Those cases, as tragic as they are, are occurring among people who are isolated from the public with their caregivers wearing masks properly. That means 14 cases among the general public in a county of 20,000, an infection rate of 0.0007 and a death rate of 0.00015.

Highlighting who is and isn’t wearing masks is only pointing out what most people are being forced to do, or, like the author, told to do by “experts” who change their advice weekly. It does not reflect what the science of contagion tells us. In case you all don’t recall, our current experts, Dr. Fauci and the CDC, were telling us less than 6 weeks ago that masks were totally unnecessary for the public and shouldn’t be worn at all. Did the science change? No.

The adults among us measure risk every day. About 38,000 people die in car accidents every year in the U.S. If we care, why don’t we lower our speed limits which is proven to reduce both accidents and fatalities? I have ridden motorcycles for over 50 years, a risk I, as an adult, have decided to assume.

To bring some science closer to the author, according to the National Ag Safety Database, every day, 33 children sustain agriculture-related injuries and every three days, a child dies because of an agriculture-related incident. Maybe, if we care, we shouldn’t’ allow children on farms. Oh, and about 800 children die from drowning each year. If we care, shouldn’t we keep them away from beaches and pools?

And, while we’re here and you’re judging every person not wearing a mask, I have had many patients who cannot safely wear a mask. People with asthma, chronic pulmonary diseases, cardiac disease or claustrophobia. Should those people be forced to stay home and for how long? Yes, many of them are at higher risk of complications or death from Covid should they contract the disease. But, as adult Americans, it should be their choice whether they go out or not.

And bearded folks like you or I will never get a sufficient facial seal from a common face mask rendering them all but useless.

So how about this. You continue to wear mask in public without any scientific evidence that you are actually helping anybody, and I won’t lecture you while others can choose not to wear a mask and you won’t lecture them.

PS: I am eagerly awaiting your next column about Life on the Farm.

Stuart R. Goldstein, RN, MSN

Green Creek