For some reason the use of face masks to prevent the spread of illness has now become political. Doctors and dentists have always worn them during surgery and treatment and I don’t recall ever hearing anyone complaining. But suddenly there are many people who are now confident that they are useless. A recent (and irresponsible) letter in the August 12 edition of the Coronado Eagle & Journal submitted by John Morton, M.D. referenced a study that found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” The letter further stated, “Public health authorities and the media have systematically lied to the American people about this pandemic.” No proof is offered for the latter comment. I smell an agenda.

The study referenced by Dr. Morton was an analysis of several other studies. I decided to take a look at a few of them. The first study (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/15/2/08-1167_article) stated (emphasis is mine), ***“We found that adherence to mask use significantly reduced the risk for ILI-associated infection (Influenza-like Illness),*** but <50% of participants wore masks most of the time. We concluded that household use of face masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective for controlling seasonal respiratory disease. However, during a severe pandemic when use of face masks might be greater, pandemic transmission in households could be reduced.” So they found that masks did work, but were not entirely effective because people didn’t always wear them! It concluded, “Adherence to mask use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of ILI-associated infection.” Odd then to use this study to support your notion that masking does not work.

Another study that was used in the analysis (https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/201/4/491/861190) recruited one group of college kids and asked them to wear masks for the duration of the weeks long study. Another group was asked to both wear masks and implement proper hand washing techniques. One of the big flaws in this study was that (like the study above), masks were not worn all the time. On average, participants wore masks 3.5 hours per day, “…the mask and hand hygiene group who reported wearing their masks for more than average (3.5 h per day) during weeks 3–6 of the study.”

The study stated, “We observed significant reductions in ILI during weeks 4–6 in the mask and hand hygiene group, compared with the control group… Face mask use alone showed a similar reduction in ILI compared with the control group, but adjusted estimates were not statistically significant. Neither face mask use and hand hygiene nor face mask use alone was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of ILI cumulatively.” So even minimal mask use, in combination with hand washing, significantly reduced infections. Sounds a lot like our guidelines now. It’s also important to note that these protections were effective in an environment where only some subjects wore masks. Our current guidelines state that everyone should be wearing masks – because it increases effectiveness.

If you’re not into science and studies just look around the world. States and countries that adhere to masking and social distancing guidelines are successfully combating the spread of Covid19. The ones who are resistant are failing. That’s not a coincidence. Doctors don’t wear masks for fun - they wear them because they work. Please wear a mask and help slow the spread of Covid19.

Regards,

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