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Placer County Supervisor says masks are dangerous and face coverings don't help. We checked it out | Coronavirus in Context

Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler also compared wearing the mask to an AIDS ribbon, saying they are just for show.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As more businesses reopen in California, some people are pushing back against recommendations to wear masks or face coverings when out in public to help decrease the spread of coronavirus. One local official recently shared his thoughts about masks on Facebook.

In a more than 5 minutes long video, Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler explains why he doesn't believe wearing a face-covering or masks keeps people safe. In the video posted on Wednesday, he cited a 2017 Reuters article on masks and air pollution in India to back up his stance and compared it to people wearing red ribbons to combat the AIDS epidemic.

"Let me introduce you to the 2020 covid-19 equivalent to the red ribbon: the face mask.  You see, the face mask is today's sign that you care." Uhler said. "More importantly if you don't wear one then obviously you don't care.  Nothing these days seems more controversial than somebody wearing a mask or more importantly not wearing a mask, therefore, suffering the ire and the scorn of those who are wearing masks."

Currently wearing masks while doing essential activities outside people's homes is recommended in Placer County.  The county has seen 358 confirmed cases of coronavirus and nine deaths.  According to the county's dashboard, cases are increasing in June over May.

Many people in the comment section of the post agreed with Uhler.   We looked into what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Placer County Public Health Department have said about the issue.

Masks and carbon dioxide

"While ill-fitting masks let in pollutants, masks that fit too tightly can be problematic. A person wearing any kind of mask faces breathing resistance." Uhler read from the article. "Moreover, carbon dioxide that gets exhaled is trapped in the chamber and reenters the body every time the mask users inhales. This delivers less oxygen into the body."

The CDC says it's unlikely for medical masks, and even more so unlikely for homemade masks, to poison you with carbon dioxide. They said carbon dioxide can build up over time in masks but not to a dangerous level. 

The CDC says the worst that could happen would be for you to get a headache. The agency's stance is based on research about medical quality equipment like N95 masks, which, have a tighter seal and allow less air in and out. The CDC also said homemade masks - especially cloth ones - aren't great at stopping air from going in or out.

The N95 mask

In the video Uhler said, "So if you are concerned about your health you need to be wearing something like this (N95)."

Uhler is correct, the CDC says the N95 is “capable of filtering out all types of particles, including bacteria and viruses.” 

The CDC also states that  "A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others."

Do homemade face coverings help stop the spread of COVID-19?

“If you are walking around wearing something like this (face covering made out of bandana) or one of those blue things with the loose ear loops thinking you are protecting yourself or someone else, you might as well be wearing this (red ribbon),” Uhler said.

The CDC advises using "simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others."  

In April, Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson said that, "My face-covering protects you, and your face cover protects me.  The basic idea is that my face cover protects you and your face cover protects me because the mask can catch respiratory droplets and keep sick people from spreading their germs to others." 

ABC10 reached out to Uhler for comment but hasn't heard back.

WATCH ALSO: Walt's Blender: Why has wearing a mask become a political statement?  Walt discusses the inconceivable politicization of wearing a mask in the age of coronavirus.



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