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Questions remain on effectiveness of universal masking

by WayneTimes.com
April 4, 2020

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - As local and federal leaders mull the idea of "universal masking" to slow the spread of COVID-19, some doctors are wary about the benefits of everyone in public wearing masks.

Dr. Emil Lesho, the head of the division of infectious diseases for Rochester Regional Health, says there’s little research suggesting wearing cloth masks or bandanas help slow the spread of the virus.

“What does work? We don’t know, because this hasn’t been studied. Theoretically, a lot of things might help; bandanas, better than nothing,” said Dr. Lesho.

Dr. Lesho says masks are likely not needed in public places, like parks. He says they could be more beneficial in places like grocery stores.

“At the supermarket or the essential businesses you have to go, sometimes you are within six feet of a person or you’re in a more crowded setting, and there would be definite value to have a mask on,” said Dr. Lesho.

Dr. Lesho says he fears more people buying masks would strain an already-short supply of masks for hospital workers, particularly N95 masks, which are commonly used by healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 patients.

He says wearing masks could help those who are not symptomatic from spreading the disease.

“I’m masking myself to protect you from me, not me from you,” he said.

He says people still would need to be wary of hand washing, and not touching their masks with unwashed hands. He says it would need to be cleaned daily.

Making homemade masks could be more difficult for some people. Tracey Curry in Macedon says she’s made about 30 so far, and anticipates having trouble finding supplies once her materials run out.

“I can’t get elastic at all, so I’ve gone to ties instead. I’ve looked online for interfacing because I can’t get it locally at all. I actually called one of the local craft stores and they said you’re going to have a hard time finding elastic or interfacing anywhere,” said Curry.

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