As we approach the fall and winter months, it is imperative we continue the use of face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 and follow the recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Misinformation about their effectiveness to slow the spread of COVID-19 as well as the misconception that their use deprives a wearer’s oxygen level will only lead to adverse impacts on individuals who follow inaccurate information.
An infodemic, that has recently accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, is an overabundance of information, some information is accurate, and some is not. This makes it difficult for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it the most.
For most adults, wearing a face mask will not lead to the wearer developing hypoxemia. There are a few exceptions, including the use among very young children and people with certain pre-existing pulmonary or cardiac issues. Hypoxemia is a condition in which the supply of oxygen is inadequate for normal organ function and levels of oxygen are extremely low at the tissue level. Hypoxemia is determined by measuring the oxygen level in a blood sample, the artery, or it can be estimated by measuring the oxygen saturation of your blood by using a pulse oximeter.
Normal arterial oxygen is approximately 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For healthy individuals, a pulse oximeter reading of 95 to 100 percent is normal however for those with chronic respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an acceptable pulse oximeter reading is 88 to 92 percent. Pulse oximetry levels among COVID-19 patients vary as the condition evolves.
In a press release from earlier this year, CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield shared, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus, particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Stay safe and stay informed with good sources of information. Research shows masks are effective in spreading COVID-19 and they will not cause oxygen deprivation.