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special report

Mask update No. 4: Can a mask make you sick?

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Answering your most common mask-related questions.

Yolanda Enrich FNP at Novant Health Adult Primary Care in Waughtown

Meanwhile, some people declining to wear masks have said the requirement infringes upon personal freedom and is an example of government overreach.

Yolanda Enrich, a family nurse practitioner at Novant Health Adult Primary Care Waughtown, does not see mask wearing as a political issue, but rather, as a health and safety consideration for the good of everyone.  

“Remember, the purpose of the mask is to not only protect yourself, but to protect those around you,” Enrich said. “Even if you are asymptomatic, you can still spread the virus to others. By wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing frequent hand-washing, you are doing your part to help slow the spread and to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

What would you say to someone who believes their rights are being violated because of the masking mandate?

Please consider wearing a mask for everyone’s safety. It’s not just about you, it’s about the public good. Wearing a mask is a direct step you can take to keep yourself and members of the community safe, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk.

If masks really work, then why can’t we all just wear them and get back to the gym, church and sporting events?  

Research shows that masks work well when paired with social distancing and hand-washing. Avoiding large crowds is still essential, even with a mask on, to help slow the spread.

If I’m sick with a cold, or even just allergies, can wearing a mask all day harm my own health? It can’t be good to trap all of that snot and spit in my mask and breathe it in for eight hours, right?

No, wearing a mask will not harm your health even if you are sick with a cold or allergies. If your mask gets too moist just make sure you are changing it regularly.

The governor said kids under 11 don’t need to wear a mask. But can’t they still catch the virus? What should we do to keep our kids safe if they aren’t wearing masks?

Yes, children can catch the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children over the age of 2 wear a mask. If your children are over the age of 2, you can have them wear a mask even if the state does not require it.

If you work in an office setting, should everyone wear a mask? And what about those in a cubical?

Yes, employees and customers should wear masks. If working in a cubicle that allows for social distancing (6 feet) between the employee in the next cubicle, the mask is not needed. The mask should be worn when around other employees, in common areas or when walking through the office.

My adult son has autism and hates wearing a mask. Is it possible to get him a medical exemption, or what should we do?

The North Carolina mandate issued exempts children under 11, people with medical conditions and people who are exercising and able to maintain social distancing. People who can’t wear a mask due to developmental issues are not required to wear one. 

Do I need to get an ultraviolet light to clean my masks?

No, just follow the CDC recommendations on how to wash your mask. You can wash your face covering with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry. If air drying, lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.

If I travel to a beach, should I get a COVID-19 test when I get back?

You need to follow the CDC guidelines as some areas are designated as hot spots. You definitely need to be careful around large crowds and pay attention to any symptoms you may have.

What medical conditions are exempt from having to wear a mask?

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

If I have a medical condition that prevents me from being able to wear a mask and need to go into a business, do I need to get a doctor’s note?

The state does not require individuals to provide documentation for a medical exemption and is relying on the honor system.

I know I need to wear a mask inside the store, but do I need to have it on during my walk through the parking lot?

You need to wear a mask anytime you will not be able to stay 6 feet away from other people.

Is there a right way to wear my mask?

The mask should fit snugly and cover your nose, mouth and chin. You should also never touch the front of your mask as it might be contaminated. Instead, you should touch only the ear loops or ties on the back when putting the mask on or taking it off.

Take care to always have the same side of the mask facing outward. You don't want to go into a public place wearing a mask, take it off later, and then put it back on with the front now pressing on your face. Always keep the "clean" side in. And you should also wash your hands before and after use.

For answers to more of your questions on masking and how they keep us safe click here.

(1) comment


I see that I'm the first to comment and I'm sure everyone is so tired of dealing with Covid 19. The mask issue is a hot debate and has been since the beginning and for good reason. Our rights are systematically being taken away by politicians who are NOT experts at all on this virus. I appreciate the news updates and although I no longer live in NC I still want to see not only honest reporting by anyone who reports the news, but investigative reporting as well. This article should have actual research attached to it that will either back up what the people interviewed have said or disprove it but with good resources.

When we were living in NC I worked for NC State government for some time as a Technical Writer, primarily with HHS. Had I not retired this most likely would have come across my desk at some point. So my "go to" is to do research on any topic before I comment so that I know the facts and not just the opinions. I doubt if most medical personnel even do that so I'm not surprised when I actually find conflicting facts to what they seem to believe.

So here goes; a government study done in 2015 proved that cloth masks have an efficacy of only 3%! Additionally, cloth masks have other problems associated with them such as fit, cleanliness, heavy bacteria buildup, misuse, as well as other issues. In order to do a comparison and contrast a medical paper facemask was also tested. The medical paper facemask is still only 44% effective and also have issues that never seem to be addressed. People are reusing these masks with some claiming to "wash" them for reuse. These paper masks have a lifetime use of 20 to 30 minutes before saturation has been achieved and then they should be discarded in the appropriate receptacle for biohazard materials. I guarantee no one is doing that; in fact you will see masks discarded everywhere without caution; and gloves too.

In a contagious hospital setting a medical person will be wearing a facemask and sometimes a shield often with the mask, goggles or protective eyewear, will be covered head to about knee level with a disposable gown, and disposable gloves.

However, most non medical personnel are using homemade cloth masks that we now know only help about 3% of the time. Before you say, "That's better than nothing" you also need to consider the issues that were discovered with those cloth masks including the bacteria buildup that makes them completely useless. In most cases those cloth masks are making things absolutely worse. And you better believe that the CDC and WHO know about this study! So I will attach the link here for you to read for yourself.

and just for kicks, how about a demonstration?

Additionally, I also did the research on how many viruses we have on Earth and how they actually work. There are millions of viruses, some are contained to animals, some cross from animals to mammals, and some seem to hover in the mammal population.

These viruses don't really seem to ever go away; the potential to kill them is there but they are so fast moving among populations that it is already very likely that everyone in the USA has already been exposed to C-19. Experts are now claiming that as early as October of 2019, because of air travel from China, the virus was already among our population long before the news spoke of it or China even acknowledged that they had a problem was known. If this is true there were no closings, masks, or social distancing during those months. And even though the President shutdown travel in and out of China as soon as he knew about it, the virus was already well entrenched in our population and was quickly doing its "thing" as all viruses do as well. Four months is a long time for a virus to be in the mix and as we already know very well, many people who have gotten this virus have had very mild symptoms and there has been a 98% recovery rate so it was going largely unnoticed at that time.

We also know that the common cold is both a rhinovirus and a Corona virus so the C-19 virus has many common core symptoms with the common cold that is spread throughout the year and throughout every nation. This will most likely always be true of the C-19 virus as well, but shutting down our lives forever will not change that, and also like every other virus the old and immune comprised individual (I am both) will always be at the greatest risk for any virus.

So rather than getting everyone riled up even further, or for that matter more frightened, I hope this information has helped to both alleviate those many fears and has helped to interject facts over opinions. Now if we could just get our politicians and governmental leaders on board with facts over opinions, that would be most helpful. Maybe pass those links around to your leaders, see if they actually will put the time into reading them.

Conclusion: Masks don't help

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