‘We should look at the science’: Local medical experts address theories about wearing face masks

Medical experts address some theories about wearing masks

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Many people have expressed their opinion on whether mask ordinances are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Medical experts say some of the information being spread about masks needs a bit of fact checking.

“[It’s] a myth, [wearing masks] will cause carbon dioxide build up and make you dizzy, it’s untrue,” said Michelle King, corporate director of infectious prevention at McLeod Regional Medical Center. “[Wearing a mask] is going to make you pass out is untrue.”

Some people have told our news team that masks haven’t contributed to the decline in COVID-19 cases across our area, and because the cases are going down, they feel masks aren’t needed. But medical experts say that information is not accurate.

“There had been surges in some communities then it dropped,” said Dr. William Epperson with Tidelands Health. “We can directly account for the reduction in cases by how many people are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. It’s proven now, there’s no debate about that whatsoever. It is our responsibility to society to wear a mask to protect others. How did we get COVID [spread] in the first place? Because people weren’t wearing masks or social distancing."

”If you’re wearing a mask it protects you from other people and it also protects other people from you," King added. “The droplets that might come from your speaking or talking loudly, wearing masks is the best protection because the droplets are being captured in that mask. The numbers are going down because people are wearing masks more often.”

King notes people need to take a closer look at the percent positive rate for the state, which reflects the amount of people testing positive for the virus out of people who have been tested for the first time.

“If you notice the total number of tests done across the state are lower than we had been testing lately, but the total percent positive rate [for the state] is still around 15 percent‚" King said. “So there are several people who are probably out there who don’ know they are sick and are passing the infection. It’s still a great risk to not wear a mask in a public place.”

She says that percentage will provide an accurate picture of where the COVID threat is today and why masks are necessary.

“We keep a watch on that percent positive because if it gets up around 20 percent, that’s an indicator that we’re having an increase in the infection, a [possible] outbreak again,” King said.

Some people have said masks shouldn’t be worn because they can be harmful to your health and limit your breathing. The doctors shine a light on those concerns.

“There are those who have severe respiratory problems and a mask could compromise their breathing,” Epperson said. “Those people should not leave home. Their [infection] risk is so high for not wearing a mask, they should never expose themselves out in the community. So there is zero reason why anyone should be out in the public without a mask.”

Epperson says masks can safely be worn throughout the day.

“Every day‚ there are surgeons wearing masks for many hours," Epperson said. "They’re working on people’s hearts, they’re working on people’s brains. And if they are impaired while they’re working on your brain, that’s a really bad thing. We absolutely have 100 years of evidence showing [masks can be worn].”

The doctors are advising all residents to wear their masks in public places and maintain six feet of distance from other people to prevent any possible outbreak in the state.

“Stopping the spread of an infection is not politically motivated in anyway,” King said. “We should look at the science of it and science tells us masking prevents the spread of infection."

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.