Face masks are a hard commodity to find lately as many Iowa drug stores and even hardware stores are sold out over rising fears about coronavirus.
There’s a lot of confusion about masks, though, according to health care professionals in Davenport. Doctor Louis Katz, at the Scott County Health Department, says masks give people a false sense of security.
“There’s absolutely no evidence that a well person is significantly protected by wearing a mask, despite a lot of people wearing masks,” Dr. Katz says. “The thing that it does, it diverts masks that are going to be needed in acute care if the epidemic gets bad.”
While it doesn’t hurt people who aren’t sick to wear a mask, Katz says the supply of masks is very important. “I think that I will fail at convincing some segment of the public that they shouldn’t be wearing masks because those masks need to be made available to the hospitals and the clinics and the acute care facilities and the first responders,” Katz says. “They’re at a much higher risk than the general public.”
The Davenport-based Genesis Health System had been offering free masks and hand sanitizer to visitors — until recently. Lisa Caffrey, the system’s infection prevention coordinator, says they had to stop. “People are out running around buying or taking masks inappropriately,” Caffrey says. “We had to take our masks out of our public kiosks because people wouldn’t just take one, they were taking boxes of them. We had to do that. They’re available behind our counters. You just have to ask for it.”
Caffrey says if you’re going to wear a mask, at least wear it properly. “The mask does not work unless you cover the mouth and nose and there’s a little metal bar in there that you pinch over your nose,” Caffrey says. “That’s the only way you’re going to get any kind of protection. The mask just keeps those big chunks from coming out all over everybody else.”
Federal health officials say masks are ineffective at preventing the spread of coronavirus. Caffrey notes, health care experts added a “C” to the three Cs of “Clean, Cover, and Contain.” The fourth “C” is for those who have symptoms to call ahead before going to the hospital, doctor’s office and other health care centers. That way, employees can isolate those who are sick from others in waiting areas.
(By Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, Rock Island)