A friend of mine is a doctor in the UK’s National Health Service. She’s deeply worried about recommendations for people to wear masks. Here’s why: first of all, the one badly designed experiment on which this advice relies was highly misleading (machines don’t emit moist warm breath). Secondly, the perils of wearing facemasks is already known by medical personnel, which is why the recommendation is to dispose of a mask after 20 minutes of use. Sadly, civilians will be wearing their masks for much, much longer. Which means these masks become warm and moist, which is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, that are then inhaled into the user’s lungs.
My NHS friend, and many of her peers, are concerned that this will result in a significant number of respiratory ailments, which is the very last thing one would wish to promote during a pandemic of a virus that causes respiratory distress.
So while masks may be a political issue in the USA, the reality is that they are a (currently ignored) health issue — only not in the way most people believe.