My perspective on the city's mask requirements

By Sallianne Hines

On Monday night, I watched the city council meeting about a possible mask mandate. I was stunned at the ignorance and misunderstanding voiced as “truth.”

No. 1 Falsehood – 99% survival rate. Those who quoted this seemed to think survival is equal to “back to normal health.” For many “survivors” it is not. We are just now learning the serious and long-term side effects suffered by those who had the virus—even a mild case—such as heart, lung, blood, kidney, and neurological problems, possibly lifelong. Survival does not equal “health.”

No. 2 Falsehood – Masks protect the mask wearer. The surgeon who wears a mask does so to protect the patient, not himself of herself. If I wear a mask, it protects those around me far more than it protects me—a scientifically proven fact that many have obviously still not grasped. This is why those who wear masks can still get sick—from the germs spewed out by those around them who are not wearing masks.

No. 3 Falsehood – If you have no symptoms you don’t need a mask. It is now estimated that more than 50% of transmission is from asymptomatic carriers who are defined as those with no symptoms but who are still able to spread the virus to everyone around them, even unknowingly.

No. 4 Falsehood – Staying six-feet apart is a safe enough distance. The CDC has now confirmed this virus is airborne and that the germs can travel 16 feet within a room - further if carried by air circulation systems - and that the virus lingers in the air for 3-4 hours. Think that empty room or store is safe? Think again if those who were there before you didn’t wear masks.

No. 5 Falsehood – Washing your hands or using sanitizer are good protections. This can be true if done correctly, but it often is not. Hand sanitizer is a temporary measure to use if you cannot immediately wash your hands. It is said to give less than 80% protection. Washing hands is best if you wash with plenty of soap for at least the duration of the Happy Birthday Song - sung twice. Most people don’t do this, or use sanitizer only.     

No. 6 Falsehood – Wearing a mask is good protection. See No. 1 above – wearing a mask protects the other person more than the mask wearer. And please understand that masks are not effective unless used and worn properly. When I watched one of the Covid Task Force meetings, only two of the five men on the task force used proper mask protocol! The doctor wore his mask under his nose thereby contaminating all, and during the meeting he and the hospital CEO and the Mayor all touched their masks repeatedly, with hands that had not been sanitized.

Mask wearers should not touch their mask while wearing it, and must sanitize or wash their hands before removing the mask, and must remove it by the ear loops, especially if it needs to be worn again before being laundered. And masks need to be laundered after wearing if they are cloth, or disposed of properly if disposable. Not thrown on the ground or left in shopping carts

P.S. – Bandanas and neck gaiters are not considered protective by the CDC. The weave is too loose and openings at top and bottom are not effective.

To summarize, masks can be very effective if worn and used properly. Masks can be far more effective if worn by everyone.

If each mask has two layers of protection and if everyone wears one we could all enjoy four layers of protection. And those four layers are twice as safe as two layers.

Just because something is not 100% effective does not render it useless. We must all do everything we can to reduce the transmission rate.

And for those who quip about that 99% survival rate—which of your family members or dear friends do you choose to be the 1% to die?

Your grandma? Your child with asthma? Your nephew who is recovering from cancer?

How can you look anyone you love in the face and state that your own “personal freedom” is more important than their life?

Sallianne Hines is an author and Huron resident.