If all of us wore masks, we could bring the COVID-19 cases under control within a month or two (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and save the U.S. economy $1 trillion (https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahhansen/2020/06/30/a-national-mask-mandate-could-save-the-us-economy-1-trillion-goldman-sachs-says/#4f3d5f5756f1). At the early onset, people were initially confused about the necessity of masks because we did not know how the infection rate would impact the U.S., and there was also a shortage of supplies. Now there is no excuse. Masks are a necessity for both our public health and our economy. How foolish and naïve that Americans are making masks a political issue! As a healthcare provider, I find the current behavior of Americans, who are mismanaging this pandemic, both disrespectful, dangerous and selfish, especially toward the health field.
Masks work. You can choose cloth or surgical masks. Although bandanas are not as effective, it is better than nothing. It is not necessary for the general public to wear N95 masks. There are also many misconceptions about the subject. Here are the facts:
In addition to masks the other two parts to the equation in protecting ourselves from the spread of the virus are physical distancing (in general 6 feet apart) and washing our hands. These three simple measures – 1. Wearing masks, 2. Physical Distancing, 3. Washing hands – have shown that the resurgence of the disease can be prevented (https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/06/stanford-scientists-contribute-to-who-mask-guidelines.html).
The pandemic is a crisis, and like other crises, denial does not work in managing it. We must see transformations in two areas: The federal government’s initiatives and the American public’s behavior.
If the federal government does not change its approach to the management of this pandemic and the American public continues its infantile behavior, we will have absolute bedlam this fall, and into the winter. In addition to the resurgences of the virus occurring in an unpredictable manner, our economy will go in the opposite direction – a direct and predictable decline. We will likely see more violence, increased mental illness, conspiracy theories, panic and shortages in such necessities as food products, toiletries and medications.
How can we educate the public about the benefits of masks? Many healthcare providers are becoming proactive on social media, as well as petitioning the government to develop a federal mask mandate. “As this conversation gathered steam through retweets, likes, and comments, Helen Burstin, MD, chief executive officer of the Council of Medical Subspecialty Societies (CMSS), took notice. She tweeted out that she would look into this issue with the leaders of the 45 medical subspecialty societies representing 800,000 doctors. The following day, she shared CMSS's unequivocal statement advocating for the need to respect science and implement a national mandate for universal masking” (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/933604?nlid=136389_785&src=WNL_mdplsfeat_200714_mscpedit_nurs&uac=64796DZ&spon=24&impID=2460461&faf=1). Recently, “three powerful healthcare organizations followed suit supporting masks: The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association released an ‘official letter’ to the public strongly encouraging the use of cloth masks” – see this link for the actual letter (https://www.aha.org/lettercomment/2020-07-06-aha-ama-ana-open-letter-urging-public-wear-mask-stop-covid-19-spread).
Here is my personal message to my fellow Americans:
In contrast to what the American public has to sacrifice (and for some individuals it is much more than others), few stories can compare to what healthcare providers are enduring:
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Charlotte Michos is a clinical nurse specialist who values personal-centered care and serves as a Healthcare Consultant in helping others make informed decisions. For more information, email her or call (845) 548-5980.
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