The Face Mask – Unnecessary Order or Potential Life Saver?

Prior to Covid-19, did you ever see yourself wearing a face mask? More importantly, did you ever think there would be a controversy over wearing one in Knox County? Yet, that’s where we’re at.

At a meeting on July 1, the Knox County Health Department passed an order requiring people in the county to wear face masks in most indoor public places starting on July 3.

Cases of Covid-19 started to appear in Knox County in mid- March. The Health Department wanted to get control of the Covid-19 outbreak and limit the number of cases in the county. So, it issued a Safer at Home order. In addition to urging the county residents to stay at home and only go out for essential needs, they asked them to:

  • wear face masks,
  • practice social distancing at work and when out in public, and
  • wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds
  • stay home if they are sick.

Initially, many residents complied. As time passed, many tired of it. Less and less wore face masks. In public, few people practiced social distancing. The only thing most continued to do was wash their hands frequently.

As of March 26, there were 20 cases of Covid-19 in the county. That had increased to 336 on May 25. Then the number of cases increased dramatically over the next 5 ½ weeks.  On July 1, the total number of cases was 977.

Covid-19 was out of control. The Knox County Health Department was alarmed. That’s why they mandated all residents wear face masks.

Needless to say, there was an immediate outcry. Some residents claimed the order violated their individual freedom. Others said wearing a mask would harm their health

Why are People Reluctant to Wear Face Masks . . .

. . . when wearing them has been found to be an important way to reduce the spread of Covid-19?

In February, the CDC, the infectious disease expert in the United States, Dr. Fauci, and other medical professionals said that people who were not sick did not need to wear face masks. Many decided not to wear a mask then.

Some said it was their choice. The government had no right to mandate it.

Other people believed wearing face masks could harm their health.  They believed the false comments they read on Facebook and other Social Media sites.  Here are the main ones:

  • Wearing a face mask decreases a person’s oxygen intake substantially.
  • It increases the amount of toxins and carbon dioxide they inhale and increases their risk of carbon dioxide poisoning.
  • It will eventually cause their immune system to “shut down.”
  • Viruses and bacteria can accumulate on the outside of the masks and be inhaled when they take the masks off.
  • Contaminants can be caught in the fibers of the masks and be inhaled by the wearers.

Let’s Look at Each of These More Closely

Healthy People Don’t Need to Wear Face Masks

Very early in this pandemic, medical professionals did say healthy people did not need to wear face masks. At that time, there was a shortage of face masks in the country. They feared if many people rushed out to get them, the supply might be exhausted. People in the medical field who needed them may not be able to get them.

That’s why they made that comment.  Since then, they have admitted their mistake and urged all people to wear them when they’re out in public.

Individual Freedom

Actually, the government has the right to pass laws and orders to protect its citizens.

An example is the seat belt law. People have been required to wear seat belts in cars in Tennessee since April of 1986. This law was passed to reduce the chance of a fatality in an auto accident.

At the time the law went into effect, some people objected claiming it violated their freedom. Now almost 90% of Tennesseans put their seat belts on automatically when getting in a car.

Wearing a Face Mask Can Harm Your Health

Recent studies have revealed when masks are worn, less people get Covid-19. There are fewer hospitalizations and the death rate is lower.

Wearing a mask does not reduce a person’s oxygen intake. It is easy to breathe through the face masks. They fit very loosely and air circulates around them. In operating rooms, nurses wear surgical masks and doctors frequently wear the more restrictive N95 masks for hours. Their oxygen intake is not affected.

There is no increase in the amount of toxins and carbon dioxide people inhale and no danger of carbon dioxide poisoning because of the air flow around the masks.

Wearing a mask does not compromise the immune system.

Yes, viruses and bacteria can accumulate on the outside of the masks if they are not washed after every use or if a paper mask is used over and over again and not thrown away.

There is no evidence contaminants caught in the fibers of masks are being inhaled by the wearers.

Of Course, Certain People Can Not Wear Masks

There are those who have a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is an inflammatory lung disease sometimes found in long term smokers. The disease obstructs the air flow in their lungs.

Then, there are those who still deal with psychological trauma from having their faces covered in the past.

Why Wear a Mask?

It may help to protect you from inhaling particles and droplets in the air which carry the Covid-19 virus.

It will also protect you from spreading the Covid-19 virus to others if you are unaware you have it. Any particles or droplets you exhale will be trapped in your mask.

.You Don’t Want Covid-19

In the most extreme cases, Covid-19 can cause death.  Most vulnerable are older people. As of July 7, 2020, 665 people in Tennessee had died from Covid-19. 608 of those were 51 and older.

200 of those 608 were between 71 and 80 and 220 were 81 and older.

The Heartbreaking Case of Actor, Nick Cordero

Nick developed Covid-19 in March and was admitted to the hospital. Prior to contracting the virus, he was very healthy.

His condition quickly deteriorated and he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit on March 31. He was placed on a ventilator and was unconscious most of the time after that.

As time passed, he developed blood clots and his right leg had to be amputated.  There was also the fear he was bleeding internally.  They even had to insert a pacemaker to regulate his heart beat.

The virus did immense damage to his lungs. If he survived, the doctors said he would have needed a double lung transplant.

Nick never made it out of the Intensive Care Unit.  He died there on July 5.  He was 41 years old.

While Nick’s case was extreme, many with Covid-19 have had problems. Those who survive after being placed on ventilators are thankful they did. Many who are hospitalized are not well enough to go home when discharged. They are sent to nursing homes to recuperate. Total recovery can take months.

When you hear the stories like these, . . .

. . . Is There Any Reason You Wouldn’t Want to Wear a Face Mask?

You’re protecting yourself.

By wearing one, you also are protecting others.  When they wear one, they are protecting you.

Most probably you have a friend with cancer or another serious medical condition. I am sure you wouldn’t want inadvertently to infect them with Covid-19 you caught because you or someone else wasn’t wearing a face mask.

The Big Ask

When you’re out in public, please make sure to wear a face mask.  You don’t have to put it on when you walk out the door or drive to where you’re going. Put it on as you leave your car or right before you enter the store, building or church. Take it off after you leave that place.

Talk to your family members and friends about this. Encourage them to wear masks.

We need to bring this Covid-19 pandemic under control.  We need to prevent people from dying unnecessarily from it. This can only happen if each of us take the necessary steps. The first one is to wear face masks as the medical professionals have urged us to.


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