‘Don’t get a false sense of security’: local doctor on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The federal government announced Friday that the CDC will be recommending all Americans cover their faces when they go outside. This isn’t mandatory, but highly recommended.

Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been wondering if wearing a mask really works. Dr. Emil Lesho, an infectious disease specialist at Rochester Regional Health, said wearing a mask doesn’t hurt, but social distancing is still the best way to prevent getting the virus.

Dr. Lesho said there’s one situation where masking is proven to work.

“Healthcare workers cannot abide by the six foot rule we have to get close to patients to treat them to examine them. Where good masks really have proven benefit is in direct contact with patients, not so much at the grocery store,” he said.

However, he said it can’t hurt and it also depends on the situation.

“At the supermarket or at the essential businesses that you have to go to sometimes you are within six feet of a person or sometimes you’re in a more crowded setting and there would be definite value to have mask then,” he said. “If you’re out on the street and you’re ten feet away from somebody walking past them, the risk is very minimal to that.”

On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo also cautioned people turning to wearing masks in public.

“Could it hurt? Might it help? I think it’s fair to say yes, but don’t get a false sense of security that now you don’t have to social distance or don’t have to take the normal precautions because you’re wearing a bandana,” Cuomo said.

Dr. Lesho also warned against a false sense of security. He said people still need to take all the precautions necessary even if they choose to wear a mask.

“A major way to get this disease is through touching surfaces that are contaminated with other respiratory secretions. I cough in my hand, I touch the doorknob, I touch the shopping cart and then somebody else touches that then touches their face,” he said.

Dr. Lesho also said he’s worried about the supply of masks for healthcare workers. He said bandanas, scarves, and homemade masks are better than nothing especially if people are staying six feet away from each other while wearing it, making sure they don’t touch it while it’s on, and washing it after use.

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