During a hearing organized by a group of New Jersey state Senate Republicans, a microbiologist and a Harvard Medical School professor said that having children wearing masks is not only ineffective and unnecessary but also potentially dangerous.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced children will not be required to wear masks when they return to school in September unless there is a significant spike in COVID metrics. However, he is leaving decisions about face coverings up to individual school districts.

Lawmakers who held the online hearing said they felt it was important to review the science and data that supports allowing kids to unmask at school and other settings.

Maria Crisler, a microbiologist and entrepreneur who started a company called Abeytu Naturals, which offers products to assist in natural healing, said masking children can cause hypoxia, where they don’t get enough oxygen, as well as other health problems.

She said tests have shown that the outside of masks have higher concentrations of germs than the surrounding environment. The CDC recommends that masks be cleaned.

She said masking kids can increase the chance for strep throat. According to the National Institutes of Health a child does not even have to be symptomatic or have a sore throat to have this infection, which means parents might not even know the child is ill.

She then said mask wearing increases blood pressure and heartbeat is increased by 27 beats per minute, and a non-scientific study done by the University of Florida found many types of bacteria on masks including E. coli and other bugs that can be dangerous.

The CDC recommends that children and anyone who is not vaccinate wear masks in indoor public places. Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Martin Kuldroff, a professor of medicine at Harvard medical school, said when the pandemic began, Sweden kept schools open for 1.8 million children with no masking and no social distancing and none of the kids died. Infection rates among teachers, however, were slightly lower than other professions.

He said while many viruses are spread by children, that is not the case with COVID, and a study in Iceland found children were not passing COVID to adults.

“So we know that masks are not needed to protect the children," he said. "For children this is not a dangerous disease.”

He said if kids do get infected with COVID, “they typically are asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatically and there’s only a few hospitalizations.”

Other participants in the hearing included a school superintendent, school nurses, parents and an attorney who said guidance about mask wearing from school officials and the Murphy administration is confusing and inconsistent.

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, organized the meeting. Other Republican state senators attending the virtual hearing included Michael Doherty, R-Warren, Bob Singer, R-Ocean, Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, and Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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