To wear a mask or not, that is the question. As a local family physician, this is the question that I get more times a day than I can count and have been for more than three months.
The answer has changed over the course of these three months. It is quite understandable why the general public has so much confusion regarding the importance of face coverings. Early on in the pandemic, we (including medical professionals not on the front lines) were discouraged from wearing masks, as they were in short supply. Great efforts were being made at that time to conserve PPE (personal protective equipment) and divert them to problem areas.
As things progressed and we learned much more about COVID-19, it became clear that its primary mode of transmission is person to person, via airborne droplets. While face coverings (albeit N-95’s, surgical masks, homemade or otherwise) don’t prevent all transmission, they do help! Primarily, face coverings help prevent transmission from an asymptomatic infected person to others.
All local, state and federal health care officials agree that wearing masks is important, especially now as we reopen and especially in indoor public areas, where social distancing is difficult.
So, to answer the question, yes, I implore you to wear a mask.
If you have an elderly parent, an at-risk child, a friend going through treatment for cancer, wear the mask for them. Consider it a courtesy to others. Just as our friendly Publix employees wear a mask as a courtesy to us, as their customers, we should extend the same courtesy to protect them.
If we want our children to go back to school this fall, and continue to remain open and keep our economy and businesses thriving, we must continue to socially distance and wear masks, especially as our rate of infection is surging statewide.
Hopefully, a vaccine is in our future, but until then, stay safe South Carolina! WE CAN DO BETTER!
Lucy Davis, M.D., is with Palmetto Primary Care Physicians of Daniel Island.