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Kaplan-Mars: Still masking?you are not alone

Last month, a social media troll said no one was wearing a face covering to protect themselves from COVID anymore. Wrong — Thousands of people have told me they still wear masks to protect themselves and others.

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Raise your hand if you still wear a mask while indoors at work, school or play. you are not alone.

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I have been a vocal advocate for caring for each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a family doctor. I still wear a mask (N95) every day at the clinic, just like the staff. Our patients must also wear masks.

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Early on, it probably felt like we were “in it together.” There is currently a disconnect between the reality of COVID-19 and the public perception of it.

For healthcare workers, those who have had COVID for a long time, those who are immunocompromised or disabled, those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and those who are still doing their best to avoid the disease, I have the following feeling. A betrayal by politicians and policymakers who abandoned all precautions and recklessly opened the floodgates for an outbreak.

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By contrast, non-healthcare professionals are generally under the illusion that COVID-19 is over. they are not responsible. The lack of transparency in communications from public health leaders and politicians, the ever-changing and ever-confusing policies and procedures regarding COVID-19, the role of some media outlets in giving voice to those who spread disinformation, Everything makes the situation worse. we find ourselves today.

A few colleagues with their own political and ideological lenses push the narrative of “freedom” and equate public health precautions with “restrictions.” They despise us and harass us.

Last month I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Carlton District School Board. During the campaign, I advocated for a safe and healthy environment for students and educators, which made me a target of displeasure from anti-vaxers and anti-maskers. .

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In response to that comment, I asked others via social media if they would wear masks, and more than 20,000 people raised their hands. The response has been strong, and the reasons people are wearing masks are heartwarming. Of course, some people don’t like it. Trolls show up to share their reasons for refusing to adopt simple and effective public health measures for their communities. Below are some comments from people wearing masks.

“Yeah. Dozens of coughs, sneezes and 20-something snares in my college class twice a week.

“Yes, I wear a mask when I work, when I teach, when I exercise, when I go grocery shopping, which means I wear an N95 when I am with other people.” (Doctor of Medicine) , University of Toronto)

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“Hubbie and I have been wearing N95s since the early days of the pandemic, and so far both doctors are COVID-free.” (University of Western Ontario, MD)

Why doesn’t public health require masks if they work? The answer is simple. Politics.

“Not only am I still wearing a mask, but this week alone I was exposed to COVID a few weeks ago and have found my saving grace to be my mask. COVID is not the only reason I’m wearing a mask, people are very sick.” (Educator, Toronto)

“Fun fact: One of my first jobs in a children’s hospital[before I became a nurse]was wearing a mask every time I had contact with a patient until the spring after the first RSV cases were reported. I like keeping babies and vulnerable people safe, so masks don’t bother me.” (NICU RN, Ottawa)

“Yeah! And the business I work for requires customers to wear masks when they shop in person with us. My kids wear masks at school and at work too.” Salesperson, Ottawa)

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“We require masks in our clinic.

“I’m a pharmacist and my wife is a teacher. I still wear masks indoors.” (Pharmacist, North Grenville)

Masks are most effective when everyone in the room is masked. Must be worn properly (covers nose and mouth and fits snugly). N95s are more effective than surgical masks, even if not tested for fit, and surgical masks are more effective than cloth masks.

Why doesn’t public health require masks if they work? The answer is simple. Politics. Our public health department cannot oppose politicians who decide to pander to anti-maskers.

During the winter months, masks must be worn in all indoor shared spaces such as schools, workplaces and playgrounds. Masks help limit the spread of airborne viruses such as COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and seasonal flu.

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Considering how crowded and overwhelmed our emergency departments are before winter sets in, now is the time for our leaders to take masks back. There is none. We need to normalize while caring for each other.

Dr. Nili Kaplan Maas Family Physician, Anthropologist, Board-Elect of OCDSB. She writes about health policy and politics.

References:

Wearing masks in community settings reduces transmission of SARS-CoV-2

Effectiveness of Using Face Masks or Respirators in Indoor Public Environments to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission — California, February-December 2021

Mask-wearing and control of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the United States: A cross-sectional study

Risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 among healthcare workers according to cumulative patient exposure and preferred mask type

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Kaplan-Mars: Still masking?you are not alone

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