BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Wearing face masks has remained a political hotbed for many communities, but the experts say masks are working in helping to stop the spread of COVID.
“The evidence is very strong that masking does prevent the spread of COVID,” stated Dr. Kevin Gibbons, executive director, UBMD Physicians' Group.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a mask mandate a little more than two-weeks ago, but it has caused some business owners and citizens to protest against it.
A study published in the British Medical Journal indicates COVID-19 infections dropped by more than 50% when people wear face masks.
The study also note social distancing and hand washing are effective at slowing the spread, but masks are the most effective tool.
“Out in the general public, the studies suggest that masking does prevent community transmission,” Dr. Gibbons stated.
We reached out to some local experts about the effectiveness of mask wearing.
“By wearing a mask it prevents me from spreading it to you — you from spreading it to me,” explained Jamie White, program director, medical imaging, Trocaire College.
The experts saying wearing masks in public places, like grocery stores, is important in stopping the spread of COVID as cases continue to spike across Western New York.
“Even if we are asymptomatic, it’s important to wear the mask,” White noted.
Before White came to Trocaire, she worked in a COVID hospital ward, caring for COVID patients.
White says masks are very effective.
“When you talk, when you cough, when you sneeze — there are microscopic particles that are carrying that disease, if you do have it,” described White.
“What would you tell someone that's saying I'm not wearing a mask?” Buckley asked.
“You're taking your life in your own hands. It's a risk,” replied White.
At Tuesday's COVID briefing, Erie County leaders say the mask mandate is working because, despite the higher rates of COVID cases, county numbers are still lower than other parts of Western New York.
I caught up with Dr. Gibbons in Zoom interview Wednesday while he was in the surgical unit at Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo, asking him about the county's claims about masks.
“Would you say that that's fair, that they are being honest when they say it is working to some extent?” Buckley questioned.
“It is working to some extent. I understand that people don't like mandates, but when you're in a situation where our test positivity is going through the roof and we're in a post Thanksgiving COVID spike that is filling our hospitals, we have to take necessary steps,” replied Dr. Gibbons.
Both health experts tell me that historically, the discovery of how masks protect respiratory droplets from spreading dates all the way back to the late 1800’s.
“That the days of Pasteur — that's when they really discovered that germs made a difference. Physicians and surgeons in particular starting wearing masks only in the last couple of years of the 19th century,” Dr. Gibbons noted.
Health experts say masks work, preventing infectious particles from spreading. But make sure you wear it properly.
“Covering the nose and the mouth, no gaps on the sides,” explained White.