Doctor has opposing view on face mask debate in schools
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama boards of education are continuing to grapple with the spread of the Delta variant and looking for ways to slow its spread. Many school districts are debating mandating face masks, but some in the medical community believe face coverings do more harm than good.
The CDC, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the Jefferson County Department of Health are all asking people and students to wear masks.
WBRC FOX6 News was contacted by a Dr. Jordan Vaughn, a CEO of Medhelp in Birmingham, who believes mask wearing increases the anxiety of children who are mandated to wear masks.
But other health leaders said that is not true.
Alabama health leaders are urging everyone to wear masks as one of the key ways to slow the spread of the very contagious Delta variant.
“Wear the masks so if you are indoors everybody should be wearing a mask regardless of your vaccination status,” said Dr. David Hicks with the Jefferson County Department of Health.
Dr. Hicks said the CDC has found studies where even vaccinated people can spread the virus. The Alabama Department of Public Health believes there are a number of studies that show wearing a mask can reduce the spread of the virus.
“Masks are effective. Masks do work. Certainly that data is there,” said Dr. Karen Landers with ADPH.
Dr. Landers said she can point to eight different studies that support wearing face coverings.
As for concerns about children mandated to wear masks impacting their mental health or creating additional anxiety, Landers said, “I do not see anything in the pediatric literature and I follow this literature that indicates this particular mitigation is harmful to children.”
There are studies that have shown that mask wearing has reduced the number of students getting infected. One example is Georgia schools, another is Wisconsin. The CDC also points to multiple studies where mask wearing has increased the protection of people who mask up.
Dr. Vaughn said he has others in the medical field who agree with him and he is not convinced there is enough data to show the benefits over the potential harm.
Landers says there is no debate, masks work.
Here is a list of studies provided by JCDH:
- The CDC maintains a summary of scientific studies related to the Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2
- A study on masking in Georgia schools
- A study on masking in Wisconsin schools
- A study comparing states that reopened with mask mandates vs. without
- A study looking at the effect of mask mandates on COVID-19 growth rates
- A study comparing the effects of early, late vs. never adoption of state mask mandates
- A review of several studies (various scenarios) showing the effect of mask-wearing
- A study looking at the effect of mask mandates on hospitalization rates
- A study looking at mask mandates and county-level case and death rates
- A study comparing cloth masking vs. medical procedure masking vs. cloth over medical
- There is debate on whether medical masks, double masking or N95 or N95 masks should be recommended in light of the more transmissible variants
- Mask mandates in Germany reduced COVID 19 cases by an average of 47% in 20 days
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