There’s been so much debate about whether facemasks prevent COVID-19, with their proponents claiming that even if they don’t help much, what’s the harm?
But what if they are doing harm? Not just the damage to childhood development, the restricted oxygen, or their symbolism of Americans’ willingness to give up freedom out of panic. I mean, isn’t putting an unsterilized piece of cloth over your mouth and nose and breathing through it for hours unsanitary? Particularly if we force them onto children, who are not famous for following strict hygiene rules.
Some concerned parents in Florida decided to do what the CDC or the media should have done a year ago. They took facemasks their kids had been forced to wear in school for 5 to 8 hours and sent them to a lab to find out what was on them that their kids had been inhaling. Brace yourself:
As many as one-third to a half of the masks were contaminated with bacteria related to pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, tuberculosis, Lyme disease, food poisoning, diphtheria, Legionnaires disease, Staphylococcus infections, encephalitis and more. The lab also identified less dangerous pathogens that could still cause fever, ulcers, acne, yeast infections, strep throat, periodontal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (pardon my “racism” against Rocky Mountain natives), and more. One-third had antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Unworn masks and a T-shirt worn by a child were tested as controls and none contained these pathogens.
This likely happened because the kids touched the masks with their fingers, set them on surfaces, wore them into the bathrooms, etc. These are germs we all come close to, but up until now, we haven’t scooped them up on a cloth and put it over our faces.
This falls under the category of news that’s “shocking, but not surprising.” A long time ago, I passed along the CDC’s strict guidelines for wearing masks hygienically and said that I couldn’t imagine anyone actually following them to the letter. Certainly not children! But if you don’t, you are creating a bacteria-infected rag and holding it over your mouth and nose.
We need to stop dismissing these concerns with “Better safe than sorry” and start ensuring that our kids actually are safe before we’re all sorry.