I am very concerned about the inaccurate information in a letter to the editor, written by Dr. Ray Andrew and printed in another local publication on July 30, 2020.
Dr. Andrew stated that Moab has had “zero local hospitalizations and zero deaths” from COVID-19. According to the Southeast Utah Health Department, Grand County has had at least 2 hospitalizations. There have been at least 24 deaths in neighboring San Juan County.
Dr. Andrew stated that St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction has posters stating, “There is no evidence that masks protect people who are not sick.” The current poster states, “Cloth face coverings are the most likely way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” The hospital informed me that all visitors are screened and required to wear a mask.
Dr. Andrew wrote, “If masks are effective, you don't need to worry about mask-less people.” Contrary to his writing, I do need to worry if I am in close contact with mask-less people, especially indoors. I am surprised that as a medical professional he doesn’t understand that while my mask slightly reduces my chance of infection, being around a maskless person who is sick, pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic increases my chances of infection. Considering that I have enough underlying conditions that I’d be dead before the test results came back, I will take precautions for myself and others.
Dr. Andrew commented on how “history is littered with experts being wrong on every subject.” Yes, history shows us how we have grown in understanding the human body. The coronavirus disease is also referred to as the novel coronavirus, novel meaning “new” or “unusual.” The reason recommendations for the coronavirus have changed is because it is novel and we are learning more due to cases worldwide, data, observation and research.
Dr. Andrew wrote that there is no scientific proof of mask effectiveness in any “randomized controlled medical trial (RCT) for coronavirus or any other virus.” Wow, no efficacy on any other virus since the beginning of time! It behooves us to consider other studies, such as one from University of California San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD, and Peter Chin-Hong's Health Affairs Study from Stanford. How about a study published by Richard Stutl, a researcher at Cambridge? What about the Mayo Clinic information asking everyone to wear a cloth mask saying it can help reduce the spread by people who have COVID-19 but don't realize it? Consider information from Amy Price, Ph.D. and senior research scientist: “When an infected person is not wearing a mask, particles can float through the air 30 feet or more and stay alive for up to 30 hours.”
Masks are required for public safety in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, crowded outdoor or indoor locations like restaurants, and work places all around the world. My Moab community: let’s aim to be judicious, logical, rational, sensible, reasonable, and well-advised, but above all, let’s be safe.
Carol Delaney, M.Ed.