Photo Credit: YouTube screengrab / Reuters
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo tackles the public resistance against wearing masks.

To wear a mask — or not to wear a mask? In Israel it’s not even as question. But in New York it is still being left up to individual citizens.

The State of Israel requires its citizens – from age seven and up — to wear face masks whenever they step out into any public venue. Similar recommendations and/or regulations have been enacted in numerous countries around the globe as well.

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But New Yorkers still have the prerogative to choose.

The reason for the restriction in Israel — and the benefit it is believed to have brought as a result — has to do with the way the COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, is transmitted – by droplets through the air that are emitted when one breathes or speaks.

But some questions are being raised as to whether the masks are causing health risks to the wearer.

Dr. Russel Blaylock, a board certified neurosurgeon and author of four books, including ‘Cellular and Molecular Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders,’ contends in an article for Technocracy News this month that ‘face masks pose serious risks to the healthy.’

A 2005 article published by researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon, Hong Kong in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health examined the effects of wearing N95 and surgical face masks on heart rate, thermal stress and subjective sensations, both with and without nano-functional treatments of the masks.

“Face masks are critical components of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, particularly when those workers are dealing with transmitted diseases, such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak that occurred in March 2003,” the researchers pointed out.

“It is important for one to know what impact the wearing of different types of face masks has on heat stress and discomfort, as the filtration efficiency is similar between surgical and N95 face masks, and whether the nano-functional treatment has an influence on heat stress and discomfort. In this paper, we report an experimental study on the effects of wearing different kinds of face masks with and without nano-functional treatments on thermophysiological response and subjective perception of discomfort.”

The researchers found there were “significant differences in preference between the nano-treated and untreated surgical face masks and between the surgical and N95 face masks.” They also found the masks induced “significantly different temperature and humidity in the microclimates of the face masks, which have profound influences on heart rate and thermal stress and subjective perception of discomfort.”

In his article this month for Technocracy News, Blaylock writes the side effects from long-term mask wearing can “vary from headaches to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, to hypoxia, all the way to serious life-threatening complications.”

The N95 mask, he notes, limits breathing to a greater degree because it’s also a more effective filter – and therefore also more commonly associated with headaches as well. “It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%,” Blayock writes.

Any reduction of blood oxygenation by 20 percent can lead to serious consequences, as any doctor will tell you.

But perhaps one does not have to wear their mask “for hours.” One can take a break. It’s also important to note that the above two articles were the only two articles among myriad others on the subject to document any negative effects from masks. And this writer searched for hours.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers at a daily briefing on May 13 that wearing a mask in public is a “sign of respect” to essential workers and to the people around them, Reuters reported. He called on residents of the state to wear their masks when they step out of their homes, to keep themselves and others near them safe.

“When you wear a mask, you say, ‘I respect you. I respect your health. I respect your privacy. I respect your space. I respect you. I can do anything I want with myself; this is America. But I respect you. And out of respect for you I wear this mask.’”

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