Letter: Face mask advice misses mark

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I truly appreciate the Mountain Xpress’ willingness to print letters of varying viewpoints. I found the recent letter “Masking for Pandemic Shows Care for Self, Others” [Jan. 24] quite disheartening. The writer clearly still believes that face masks are effective at stopping a respiratory virus. They are not. The science is clear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spilled the beans when they cautioned the public this past summer that face masks did not protect people from the particulate matter generated from the smoke coming down from the wildfires in Canada. Virus particles are much smaller than smoke particles.

I believe in everyone’s right to do their own research and make up their own minds. Those who choose to wear a mask should be free to do so. To insinuate that those who choose not to don’t care about themselves or their community is unscientific … and divisive.

— Gardner Hathaway
Asheville

Editor’s note: The CDC’s NIOSH Science Blog has more information here: avl.mx/dc5.

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Face mask advice misses mark

  1. Mike Rains

    Yes, your claim about virus particle size and N95 filtering is correct; however, what you are not realizing is that most viral transmission from coughing or sneezing involves viral particles contained in droplets of water/mucous. Those droplets (even very small droplets) are indeed stopped by N95’s for the most part.

    While NOT perfect (and their are many variables that can affect results); generally, when lots of people wear good masks (N95’s) in crowded public spaces, disease transmission is reduced because masks help block the outward exhast of sneezers and coughers which puts less contaminants in the air AND masks help reduce intake by those breathing that air.

    Again, this would have to be N95’s not the wide variety of inapproprate substitues such as surgical masks, bandanas, etc. And again, the vast majority of folks would need to wear them. If those conditions can’t come together, the effectiveness drops way off.

    Unfortunately, this issue has been so politicized and touches such a raw nerve for so many (because it involves trust in our government which I rightly agree has been pretty much lost), that people are pretty much going to believe what they need to believe.

    Here’s a very thorough (but long) study linked below, if anyone is interested. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8660964/#:~:text=Infected%20patients%20can%20generate%20droplets,of%20the%20underlying%20turbulent%20flow.

  2. Doug Baughman

    Mike is right on point. Thanks for the clarification. The National Institutes of Health has also noted in a recent study that “we conclude that wearing masks, wearing higher quality masks (respirators), and mask mandates generally reduced the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection”. Let’s stop with the miss information folks. Check the science.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10446908/

    • indy499

      Then why were death rates in CA and FLA so similar with completely different masking and isolation policies (except for Newsom and his elite cronies)?

  3. WNC

    We knew N-95 and better mask stopped smaller flu sized particles from the beginning. Even as Doc Fauci said we should not wear any mask. Then he said he lied so we wouldn’t run out of mask. Still pretending the cheap mask bought from China worked. Let’s see I think China sent more than cheaply made and expensive mask to America.

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