To Mask or Not to Mask, That Is the Question?

On Thursday February 17th, 2022 our Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she was removing the mask mandate for the State of New Mexico, effective immediately. The governor explained that the case counts are lower and it is time to end the mandates. The state website shows that the seven-day average on January 13, 2022 was 369 new cases and the seven-day average on February 18, 2022 was 28 new cases.

The removal of the mandate includes private healthcare facilities such as Back to Health Wellness Center. It does not include hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, prisons and some other healthcare facilities. School Boards will decide on a local level what children and teachers need to do.

To mask or not to mask has become quite political and quite polarizing to the public as a whole. Information from the powers that be has been confusing, changing and at odds for the last two years. At our office we have followed the state mandate that all people entering our office must wear a mask. We have had to turn patients away who did not want to wear a mask. In addition, we make everyone wash their hands and we take their temperature to confirm they do not have a fever. We also have advanced air filtration throughout our facility. No one has caught Covid 19 at Back to Health Wellness Center.

My review of the literature of the efficacy of wearing masks in the prevention of Covid-19 has also been very confusing. Here is a link to: More than 150 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms.

Brownstone Article

This was compiled by Dr. Paul Alexander who is an epidemiologist. Paul is a former World Health Organization Consultant and Senior Advisor to US Department of Health and Human Services in 2020 for the COVID-19 response.

Human Services in 2020 for the COVID-19 response. His review begins like this: “It is not unreasonable to conclude that surgical and cloth masks, used as they currently are being used (without other forms of PPE protection), have no impact on controlling the transmission of Covid-19 virus. Current evidence implies that face masks can be actually harmful. The body of evidence indicates that face masks are largely ineffective.”

Here is a link to an article entitled: Surgeon Destroys Myth: ‘If Masks Don’t Work, Why Do Surgeons Wear Them?’

CNS Article

Here is quote from the article: “Based on extensive review and analysis, there is no question in my mind that healthy people should not be wearing surgical or cloth masks. Nor should we be recommending universal masking of all members of the population. That recommendation is not supported by the highest level of scientific evidence.”

Here are some links showing the effectiveness of mask wearing in the prevention of Covid-19

Stanford Study

This study from Stanford University is entitled: Surgical masks reduce COVID-19 spread, large-scale study shows. The author states, “Researchers found that surgical masks impede the spread of COVID-19 and that just a few, low-cost interventions increase mask-wearing compliance.”

PubMed

This study is entitled: A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients.

This study concludes:” that community mask use by well people could be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be pre-symptomatic. The studies of masks as source control also suggest a benefit, and may be important during the COVID-19 pandemic in universal community face mask use as well as in health care settings.”

Mask Prevention & Omicron

This article is entitled: To mask or not to mask? Here’s what 2 years and hundreds of COVID-19 experts say.

This is a recent article from January 12, 2022 that states, “while multiple doctors have acknowledged the missteps and bungled messaging regarding face masks, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic, those I’ve interviewed agree that masks remain a vital layer of protection in the fight against COVID-19. ”

I could go on with many more links showing the effectiveness or the harm of masking in the prevention of Covid-19. So why have the mask mandates across the country been dropped with Hawaii the last state to still have them? My answer is that there is a growing understanding that Covid-19 policy has been wrong for quite some time and the political, scientific and social pressure has finally reached a tipping point. I feel that what is known as focused protection is finally being understood and initiated by our politicians. They don’t want to say what we have been doing all along was wrong, as we know politicians don’t often admit mistakes.

To more fully understand what focused protection is please follow the link below to the Great Barrington Declaration. The Declaration was released to the public on October 5, 2020. This was prior to the release of vaccines. It outlines a middle ground response to the pandemic. It was written by 3 experts in epidemiology from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford Universities. The details of their credentials can be found on the website of the link.

Here is an excerpt from the website: “The two main planks of focused protection and the Great Barrington Declaration follow logically from these two facts. For older people, COVID-19 is a deadly disease that should be met with overwhelming resources aimed at protecting them wherever they are, whether in nursing homes, at their own home, in the workplace, or in multi-generational homes. For the non-vulnerable, who face far greater harm from the lockdowns than they do from COVID-19 infection risk, the lockdowns should be lifted and – for those who so decide – normal life resumed.

Focused Protection

What I see happening now is a greater understanding of this concept and thus the lifting of the mask mandates. My own personal observation is that the majority of people will still wear masks as we have been inundated with the statistics of death and long-term effects of the virus for 2 years. What the media doesn’t express is these are almost all in high-risk individuals. The concept of focused protection is that those individuals should mask and protect them selves but healthy people should mask only if in contact with high risk people or situations and not all the time.

Two days after the mandate removal, I was in Whole Foods and observed that about 85% of the shoppers and the staff were wearing masks. It was interesting to see that employees of the store are no longer required to wear masks and the majority choose to wear one. I feel that the harm of masking is when people are required to wear them for extended periods of time. Is it possible that the non-vulnerable have a greater risk of health issues from extended masking then they do from the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Is this the unspoken reason for removing the mask mandates? I have been wearing a mask all day at the office for the last 2 years.

What does this mean for you our patients and me the chiropractor. Our office still has at risk patients coming to the practice. We need to protect them. We will continue to have everyone wear a mask in the front office, exercise room, reception area, hallway and bathrooms. In the two treatment rooms we are going to allow non-risk patients who choose, to remove their masks while being treated. They will have to put them back on as they reenter the common areas. We have air filtration in each treatment room that removes virus, bacteria, fungus… When those patients leave the room the air filtration will be turned onto its higher setting and remain empty to clean the air. This transition will be a process and we will err on the side of caution. As stated earlier we will continue to monitor temperature, wash hands and use the high-tech air purifiers. This will start on Monday March 7, 2022.

Please know that your health is our greatest concern and we will continue to do all we can to help you in your journey back to health or to support the healthy to be more so.

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