Mask nonuse increases risk

Arthur “Tony” Blain, MD, FAAFP

Mask nonuse increases risk

Despite clear evidence that masks slow the spread of coronavirus, many are choosing not to wear one. COVID-19 spreads mainly when respiratory droplets pass from an infected person to a nearby person through coughing, sneezing or talking. COVID-19 can still be spread from people with no symptoms. Social distancing or staying at least 6 feet away from other people and wearing cloth face coverings can protect you.

COVID cases are increasing in many states as they reopen businesses. Twenty-three states have increasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Fourteen states, including California, Oregon, Arizona and Utah, recorded their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases. Hot spots are emerging in part of Arizona, California and Oregon, with increasing numbers of COVID cases and deaths, as they lift restrictions on businesses.

California and San Diego County are rapidly opening businesses, including gyms, indoor movie theaters, bars, zoos, community swimming pools and hotels. As of June 12, San Diego had nearly 9,000 COVID-19 cases and 308 deaths, while the U.S. had more than 2.1 million cases and nearly 117,000 deaths.

The top U.S. infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, cautioned that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations will increase as restrictions on economic activity are lifted.  With no vaccine or treatment available, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives is social distancing and face coverings. Mask-wearing is even more important than social distancing and stay-at-home orders, according to a recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some people refuse to wear masks because of American independence, resistance to authority, feeling they are low risk or dislike of ability to express emotions and communicate. But doing so exposes others to risk of coronavirus, especially the elderly and those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease.

Dr. Blain is a board-certified Poway family physician and board member of the California Prostate Cancer Coalition with 24 years of medical experience, both in the community and with the military. He provides office and telemedicine care for COVID patients and all medical issues. He lives in Poway with his wife, four sons, two dogs, two cats and a Lion Head rabbit.  When not coaching youth basketball, soccer and running, he runs ultra-marathons and enjoys open water swimming.

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