Med­i­cal com­mu­nity sup­ports face mask use

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS -

EDITOR, TIMES-DIS­PATCH:

I dis­agree with Jonathan Hughes’ re­cent Letter to the Editor, “Cloth-mask man­date of no med­i­cal value.” As a full-time reg­is­tered nurse, this scares the dick­ens out of me. He is wel­come to present his per­sonal views, but I trust med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing our gov­er­nor, to make de­ci­sions for our com­mu­ni­ties and coun­try over per­sonal opin­ions. His over­view of World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) rec­om­men­da­tions for com­mu­nity use of masks is cor­rect, but a deeper in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the WHO web­site’s Q&A finds: “The use of a mask alone is not suf­fi­cient to pro­vide an ad­e­quate level of pro­tec­tion. Other mea­sures such as phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing and hand hy­giene should be adopted” and “WHO is ac­tively study­ing the rapidly evolv­ing science on masks and con­tin­u­ously up­dates its guid­ance.”

Masks cer­tainly are not an end-all bar­rier for trans­mis­sion of the COVID-19 virus, but med­i­cal-grade masks suc­cess­fully serve as bar­ri­ers to droplets

that trans­mit this highly com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease. WHO ad­vises com­mu­nity as­sess­ments to use a risk-based de­ci­sion-mak­ing process for mask use fac­tors in­clud­ing: vul­ner­a­bil­ity, set­ting, fea­si­bil­ity and types of masks. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion does sup­port the use of cloth face masks and pro­vides re­search-based sup­port on its web­site, in­clud­ing a video by Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. sur­geon gen­eral: https://www.cdc. gov/coron­avirus/2019-ncov/ pre­vent-get­ting-sick/cloth-face­cover.html

With more than 100,000 deaths and dev­as­tat­ing ill­ness across the coun­try, this new vi­ral in­sult to our globe is too young to have val­i­dated ev­i­dence­based med­i­cal prac­tice to guide us. The med­i­cal re­search has just started. We do know that many are in­fected and re­main asymp­to­matic. We do know that lives can be saved if we re­duce ex­po­sure. The med­i­cal com­mu­nity of our coun­try sup­ports that mask use is med­i­cally nec­es­sary to re­open our econ­omy.

MELISSA JARRARD-MAHAYNI, R.N.

RICH­MOND.

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