Healthy? Then ‘wearing a mask doesn’t really do much’

Coronavirus

Medical experts say wearing a face mask may do more harm than good

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People in the United States are snapping up supplies as concerns about a possible coronavirus outbreak spread and one Oregon couple stuck in Japan hopes to soon be cleared to return home.

Rebecca Frasure said Wednesday she’s still waiting for test results to come back negative so she can rejoin her husband at his hotel in Tokyo.

“They tell me tonight or tomorrow and they have told me that for the last few days,” she said. “I don’t have any symptoms or anything but the test results are everything.”

Frasure tested positive for the virus in early February while she and her husband were on a cruise off the coast of Japan. She had a fever and mild cough but said she stopped having symptoms after being admitted to a Tokyo hospital for quarantine. She said people in the city have been taking precautions.

“Tokyo has kind of run dry on masks, at least for the moment sounds like,” she said.

John Townes, a professor of medicine and medical director of infection prevention and control at OHSU, said medical professionals should be using masks because they are caring for the sick but it’s a different story for people who are healthy.

“If you’re well and walking around the community, wearing a mask doesn’t really do much,” he said. In fact, Townes said those who wear masks all day could also be doing themselves a disservice if they aren’t careful.

“That may increase your risk in some ways because you may be touching your face and fiddling with your mask all of the time,” he said.

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Townes added that some of the main manufacturers of face masks are in China and some are out of commission. So state and local officials are exploring other options should the supply chain run low.

“That’s something that state government and local government and area hospitals are all coordinating their response to that kind of problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Frasure had some advice for those in the U.S.

“Just practice good hygiene: wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advises against healthy people wearing face masks to protect against respiratory diseases, including the coronavirus. The CDC says people who show symptoms should wear masks to prevent spreading the disease to others. For more information about the CDC’s recommendations, click here.

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