WC H&HS: Mask use carries issues
April 2, 2020
Masks for all are still not indicated, Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said in a meeting on Monday.
Masks are considered personal protective equipment, and right now, PPE is in short supply.
“The highest priority for those is for medical folks,” Bischoff said. “They are at a limited number. it’s not hard to find stories about losing doctors or nurses pretty regular to this disease, whether they are too ill to work or it is to a fatality. We need to protect those folks, that’s the first reason we are not widely recommending PPE.”
Secondly, he noted, most of the population won’t use them appropriately.
Even if masks were widely available, without proper instruction, very few people would be wearing them correctly, Bischoff said. And if they were, they still would have a limited effect.
“Masks being mass produced at home have some effectiveness,” Bischoff added, “but any mask you buy commercially has been tested for its ability to restrain or remove and fabric masks have not been tested.”
“If you start recommending to the general populace, go ahead and wear a mask, then that can build a sort of immunity thought process in their head where they put a mask on and now they can walk through sneeze clouds and hug their neighbor because they have this bulletproof mask wrapped around their face,” he said. “That can actually worsen the spread, because people won’t alter their behaviors, they instead expect that the mask is doing the work for them.”
“If you want to make your own mask and wear it, feel free,” Bischoff said. “There may be a potential to reduce your risk to some extent. The best way that those types of masks work is for someone who has symptoms, to make sure that they are keeping their cough or sneeze contained. Still they are pretty leaky and that will get out every time they cough or sneeze.
"They need to be cleaned regularly. Cloth ones need to be washed with soap and hot water, and dried at a high temperature. If you are wearing the same one for several days, and you have covid-19, then your mask, every time you breath out, you’re pushing that virus out.”