Created: June 30, 2020 10:25 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — KOB 4’s Joy Wang caught up with Dr. David Scrase, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department, to address misinformation about wearing a mask.
Back in January, people were told not to wear a mask. Now, it’s mandatory for New Mexicans to wear masks in public.
Dr. Scrase said in the beginning, not a lot was known about how to protect people against the virus, but emerging data is now guiding public health officials in the right direction.
“People are frantically studying these issues to get evidence to guide the whole world about what the best thing to do is, so you know we had zero really reliable information that we could use to fight this pandemic when it started because it's a, it's called the novel coronavirus—novel meaning new, never seen before, and so there's just a ton of research data that's coming out now that gives us some guidance,” he said.
According to recent data, asymptomatic cases account for nearly one quarter of all New Mexico’s cases. That means in general, people should assume that everyone around them could be COVID-19 positive—including themselves. That’s where wearing a mask comes into play, however some rumors on social media are claiming that wearing masks can decrease oxygen intake.
“The size of an oxygen molecule and a carbon dioxide molecule are exceedingly, exceedingly small. Way, way, way smaller than the COVID virus itself,” said Dr. Scrase. “There's usually two arguments that are combined that aren't really logical: One is that the mask keeps carbon dioxide in, but it doesn't filter out COVID, which is, you know, thousands of times bigger than a carbon dioxide model, so it makes no sense whatsoever. It's impossible that both of those could be true.”
Dr. Scrase also points out that medical professionals have also been wearing masks since before the pandemic. Ultimately, after extensive research, Dr. Scrase said wearing masks is effective and saves lives.
“An estimated 230,000 to 450,000 COVID-19 cases were prevented in states that enacted requirements for mask use between April 8. and May 15., so we were one of those states that really, we strongly encouraged it. Now, it's a requirement and so that's half a million cases, which is 5,000 deaths prevented, but they do work. They are effective,” the doctor said.
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