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Masks help prevent transmission of COVID-19

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Charles Harkness, explains
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 6:04 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The debate continues: to wear a mask or to not wear a mask? It’s a hot button issue not only here in the Wiregrass, but across the county.

The Coronavirus is mainly transmitted through moisture droplets coming out of the air people breathe when they breathe out. Chief Medical Officer at Southeast Health, Dr. Charles Harkness, explains how a mask prevents transmission of COVID-19.

“What masks do are on both sides, on the side of the person infected if they wear a mask they don’t put as much out in front of them, and on the receiving side if you’re around someone with COVID and you have a mask on your chances of getting that moisturized air into your system is less,” Dr. Harkness said. “So, when both people are wearing a mask, we reduce the likelihood of transmission of the disease significantly.”

The lowest risk of transmitting the virus is when both the person who has COVID and the receiver is wearing a mask.

“This really dates back to very close to the beginning of the Coronavirus coming into the United States is the mask wearing impacts the transmission of the disease,” Dr. Harkness said.

Dr. Harkness said that employees at the hospital are exposed to COVID patients daily. Using this rule, they have kept the virus from spreading in the hospital.

“We knew our staff was going to be exposed to these patients and what can we do to reduce the spread in the hospital, so what we went to was patients wearing a mask and the staff wearing a mask,” Dr. Harkness said.

Dr. Harkness encourages people to wear a mask when coming into close contact with others.

“When you know you’re going in an environment like that, wear a mask,” Dr. Harkness said. “Whether that is in a restaurant, in a store, in church, it doesn’t matter where you go, wear a mask. It’ll reduce your likelihood of giving the disease if you don’t know you have it, or from catching it from somebody else.”

 This is a deadly virus and it is important to protect one another.

“It is something we know works,” Dr. Harkness said. “We are not trying to step on anybody’s rights, but we also want to try protecting everybody from this disease.”

Beyond a mask and social distancing, Dr. Harkness said it is important to be aware of yourself.

“If they wake up in the morning and they might have a little bit of a fever or they are not feeling quite right, my recommendation is don’t go to work, don’t be around other people, wait and see, get advice, get tested if you need too,” Dr. Harkness said. “But take those minor symptoms seriously because that’s how COVID starts.”               

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