CDC, professional organization guidelines
The CDC says people should wear masks in public and when around people who don’t live in the same household. Beyond that, it simply says masks should not be worn by children under age 2, “or anyone who has, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
In mid-July, four professional organizations released a statement in response to the CDC recommendation for facial coverings. Jointly issued by the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society and theFoundation, it states in part that people with normal lungs and “even many individuals with underlying chronic should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.”
It acknowledges that some people will seek an exemption and doctors must weigh the patient’s concerns against the need to stop the spread of the virus. “In some instances, physician reassurance regarding the safety of the facial coverings may be all that is needed,” it states.
Addressing the excuses
Here are some of the common medical reasons people give for not being able to tolerate a mask:
or anxiety. Dr. Raz and others suggests a “desensitizing” period, wearing the mask for longer and longer periods of time to get used to it. Parents could suggest kids wear a mask when doing something they like, such as watching television, so they equate it with something pleasant. Switching to a different kind of mask or one that fits better could also help.
Masks cause Legionnaires’ disease. Not true, experts say. Legionnaires’ is a severe form of, the result of inhaling tiny water droplets with legionella bacteria.
It’s difficult to read lips. People can buy masks with a clear window that makes their mouth and lips visible.
Trouble breathing. Brief periods of mask use won’t have a bad effect on oxygen levels for most people.
“There is not an inherent right to be out in awith an unmasked face,” Dr. Raz says. But “you are entitled to an accommodation.” That might be using curbside pickup for food and medication. That requires much less time wearing a mask than entering a store would.
There are no “boilerplate” cards or letters to excuse people provided by the four organizations that addressed the issue, Dr. Rizzo said. If he were to write a letter asking for an exemption, he would personalize it for an individual patient’s medical condition. As to whether a state would honor it, he cannot say. The states have a patchwork of recommendations, making it difficult to say.
Dr. Rizzo tells lung disease patients who are able to go out that wearing a mask for 15-20 minutes to do an errand won’t harm their oxygen levels. And he reminds them that having an exemption, in the form of a doctor’s letter, may bring more problems. “Even with an exemption, someone may confront them” for their lack of a face covering. People with COPD have a higher risk of getting a severe illness from COVID-19, according to the.
This article first appeared on.