Not everyone has to wear a mask in NJ (Opinion)
Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation and propaganda circulating in the media that the latest "group think" push is if you’re not wearing a mask, you are endangering other people. It’s gotten to the point where we have police being called to discipline the non-mask wearers and neighbors snitching on their former friends for mask and social distancing violations.
Let’s back up and get some perspective. First of all, as recently as March, the now famous Dr. Anthony Fauci delivered an interview on CBS saying that even though the mask may make you "feel" better, it’s unlikely protecting anyone from getting Coronavirus. Watch the Doc explain why HERE.
The pull quote if you don’t have time to watch the whole interview:
"There's no reason to be walking around with a mask," infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes.
While masks may block some droplets, Fauci said, they do not provide the level of protection people think they do. Wearing a mask may also have unintended consequences: People who wear masks tend to touch their face more often to adjust them, which can spread germs from their hands.
But there is another risk to healthy people buying disposable masks as a precaution. The price of face masks is surging, and Prestige Ameritech, the nation's largest surgical mask manufacturer, is now struggling to keep up with the increased demand.
"It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it," Fauci said. - Brit McCandless Farmer, article written on www.cbsnews.com
Prior to the height of the panic on April 3 even the CDC echoed the WHO saying that masks were simply not necessary nor recommended for the public, unless you were sick. From the CDC:
Wear a facemask if you are sick
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers. - cdc.gov
The World Health Organization has also been consistent and clear on the science behind the masks. Did the science change since March? Of course not, what changed is the panic and fear fueled by reckless and irresponsible politician like Phil Murphy. Even during the panic over the spreading virus they doubled down on the direction that everyone should NOT be wearing a mask.
Here’s the pull quote from a report from The Hill on the WHO position:
The World Health Organization (WHO) says healthy people don’t need to wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and masks should only be for those who are sick, their caretakers and health care workers.
In guidance released by WHO Monday, the United Nations public health agency said “there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. - Joseph Guzman, article written on thehill.com
Additionally, more doctors and epidemiologists are stepping forward to question social distancing and wearing masks among the general public. Here’s some science for you, the mask may actually be MAKING you sick. And this from an infection control epidemiologist:
But Dr. Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, says wearing a mask can be dangerous. That is if the wrong mask is worn, it's worn incorrectly or people have incorrect expectations when wearing it.
"The worst one is wearing one for too long," he said, noting masks can collect bacteria and other viruses.
He said a study in a U.K. medical journal showed health-care workers who wore cloth masks all day while working were 13 times more likely to get a respiratory illness when compared to the standard practice of only wearing a mask when necessary.
Those who wore a paper or procedure mask were twice as likely to get some type of respiratory infection if they wore it all day. The N95 masks were only worn when required during the study and no staff were affected.
"This shouldn't surprise us," Furness said. "A mask, you're breathing on it all day long creating all this wonderful space for bacteria to multiply, and once they get to a certain quantity you start inhaling them."
Remember what I’ve been saying for more than a month now, YOU have rights. If you suffer from a condition that makes mask wearing difficult, whether it’s a respiratory ailment or even anxiety, you can refuse the mask. AND according to the governor’s Executive Order #122, a food store or pharmacy CANNOT refuse you service. It’s incumbent on the store to make sure you get the supplies you need, if they have to, by bringing them out to you, or simply allowing you in the store.
WHEREAS, the CDC has also stated that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance;
Where an individual declines to wear a face covering on store premises due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage, neither the essential retail business nor its staff shall require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.
There is also some legal precedent for refusing to wear a mask with the Americans for Disabilities Act, which protects consumers. Here’s an excerpt from a legal analysis:
Businesses are not allowed to inquire as to the nature of the person’s disability…
…With regard to masks, generally the ADA prohibits places of public accommodation having restrictions that would limit access to an individual with a disability. However, the ADA does allow restrictions when an individual would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
As of March 2020, the EEOC has declared that the COVID-19 pandemic meets the direct threat standard, based on guidance from the CDC and public health authorities regarding the risk of community spread and institution of restrictions. IMPORTANT – This standard may change and so businesses must stay up-to-date.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic is currently considered a direct threat by the EEOC, a business would likely be on solid ground to require customers to wear face masks or covering when entering into their premises. That said, a business would not have the absolute right to refuse to provide a customer service based upon the customer’s refusal to wear a mask. - article from www.jdsupra.com
The Americans With Disabilities Act also protects those suffering from claustrophobia and anxiety. Here’s another legal review:
When Can You Refuse to Wear a Mask?
There are a few occasions on which an employee could reasonably refuse to wear a face mask:
1. If a mask interferes with your job. If wearing a mask so impedes you from performing a basic function of your job, you should bring this to your supervisor immediately. Perhaps your goggles get steamed up, impeding the precision sight needed for your work, or your team cannot hear necessary verbal commands through your mask. You should approach your employer and try to find a constructive solution together. Barring that, you can ask to be exempted from the requirement.
2. If a mask itself creates a workplace hazard. OSHA guidelines (see 29 C.F.R. 1910.134(c)(2)(i)) recognize that respirators can at times create hazards of their own. Analogously, if a face mask were to pose an occupational danger, you could refuse to wear one. You would be within your rights to decline a mask if it prevented you from seeing or smelling a hazard, or it risked getting caught in machinery or catching on fire. Mask-wearing in such a situation could itself violate OSHA safety protections, and being terminated for refusing a mask would be unlawful.
3. If a mask exacerbates a medical condition. The other time you could decline to wear a face mask is if a legitimate medical condition prevents you from safely doing so. If you have a pre-existing respiratory problem, such as asthma or COPD, you should be able to obtain an exemption from your employer. Non-respiratory conditions, such as medically documented claustrophobia or anxiety attacks, will present more difficulty but may also allow for an exemption. You can ask for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or a state law, such as the Illinois Human Rights Act. It is best to provide a doctor’s note to assure your employer of the existence and severity of your condition. Your employer will have to work with you to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided, as long as the exemption poses no undue hardship to the business. - Matt Tedeschi, article written on www.prinz-lawfirm.com
Outside of your legal rights, if you’re suffering from a medical or psychological condition, there’s the mounting evidence showing that mask wearing can be detrimental to your health. It’s time to have a balanced conversation about this policy. If the governor is so confident that he is “saving lives,” why does he fear a legitimate debate based on the science and protecting those who are suffering?
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.
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