(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


Opinion: As Omicron spreads, a reminder that masks work

Studies show that wearing masks can stop the spread of coronavirus.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/lukehuang726/" target="_self">Luke Huang</a>

Luke Huang

December 24, 2021
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Vaccines. These are some of the many words you heard on the news every single day of 2020 and even still today at the end of 2021. According to the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, the start of the coronavirus pandemic was when the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in China, reported pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China.

With the spread of the coronavirus at an alarmingly exponential rate, then President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a National Emergency. The effects of the coronavirus were and still are detrimental to not just the United States but to the world. Given how horrible the effects of are, this means we should all do our part to “flatten the curve,” as many of you have heard.

With the new Omicron variant, The Harvard Gazette reports that Harvard experts predict there will be a “surge upon surge” of COVID infections. This makes it even more important for everyone to be required to wear a mask regardless of how old, young, healthy or sick you are. Everyone should be wearing a mask and maintaining a social distance so that we can stamp out COVID-19 or at least continue to fight its spread.

Many still believe that masks do not work. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guidance for Wearing Masks, when you wear a mask, you not only protect yourself, but you also protect others. In a science brief by the CDC named, Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2, they give an example of a case study from Thailand, where around 1,000 people were interviewed, and the ones who wore masks in high-risk exposure areas were found to have a greater than 70% reduced risk of getting infected compared to those who did not wear masks. Therefore, wearing masks especially can help reduce the spreading of the coronavirus.

Another investigation from the same CDC article to further prove that masks can actually protect others as well as an experiment held in Springfield, Missouri. Two hairstylists who were experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus interacted with around 139 clients for an average of 15 clients each during an 8-day period. Among the 67 clients that agreed to participate in the interview, none of them tested positive for any developed infection. This shows how when people wear masks, people are less likely to get sick.

There are still people that are not willing to wear masks because they believe in the myth that masks hinder a person’s oxygen levels.

According to CTV News, an ICU doctor from the United Kingdom, Dr. Tom Lawton, went on a 35 kilometer (about 22 miles) run with a mask the entire time. He also brought a pulse oximeter to measure his oxygen levels throughout his run. Keep in mind that anything above 95% would be considered a normal oxygen level.

Lawton went on to say that his oxygen levels “were 98 to 99 all the time, completely normal oxygen levels all the way.” He does admit that it was uncomfortable to wear because of the sweating while running; however, many of us are not running with masks on a regular basis.

Lawton wants to assure everyone that wearing a mask will not decrease your oxygen levels regardless of what activity you are performing and it is perfectly safe. If a person who ran 35 kilometers with a mask on had no detrimental drops in oxygen levels, then wearing a mask for at most 30 minutes in a grocery store will not hinder your oxygen levels.

Everyone is tired of being in quarantine because of the coronavirus. To help speed up the process of ending quarantine and “flattening the curve,” everyone should wear a mask and maintain social distance so that we can fight COVID-19, its Omicron Variant and stop future variants from coming.