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Idaho doctor explains why masks are effective in slowing spread of coronavirus

Questions continue to be asked about masks and their role in slowing down COVID. Dr. David Pate explains the science and shoots down false narratives.

BOISE, Idaho — For weeks, medical experts have asked people to wear masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Still, there are questions about when and where people should mask-up.

“If you’re going to be out somewhere where you are going to be around other people and you cannot physically distance, then yes. Everyone should wear a mask,” said Dr. David Pate, retired CEO and president of St. Luke's Health System.

Dr. Pate explains just how easy it is to spread coronavirus without a mask.

“When they talk, when they sing, when they yell, when they raise their voice, when they cough, when they sneeze. Any of these activities cause liquids to come out in these droplets,” said Pate.

Those droplets encase the virus. Simply, blocking them with a mask as they come out reduces the risk of spreading them.

“If you inhale my droplets, you can get sick. Or, vice versa,” said Pate.

Still, many people don’t buy in.

Take a look at the comments section on the KTVB Facebook page on an article involving masks.

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Kelsey comments, “Lose the masks. It does NOT prevent anything. It does NOT reduce risks.”

“Wearing a mask will catch a lot of those droplets before they get out anywhere near you. That’s why the mask is so helpful,” said Pate.

Jacob comments in part, “Masks are good for sick people.”

The problem, it’s hard to know who is sick.

“They can be infected with it, yet not have any idea that they are infected. So they can be inadvertently transmitting this virus without even knowing it,” said Pate.

Some continue to post graphics claiming that wearing a mask will create medical issues.

“That’s not going to restrict your ability to breathe, your oxygen, and it’s not going to cause any kind of toxic chemical to accumulate like I’ve heard rumors about carbon monoxide or other things. All of that, is not true,” said Pate.    

Some people claim in-person and online that they cannot wear a mask into places like stores because of a medical reason. Some went as far as creating fake ADA cards and paperwork claiming an exemption.

“I cannot think, in probably 40 years of practicing medicine, I can’t think of a time where I told a patient you shouldn’t wear a mask because of a medical condition. I just can’t even imagine,” said Pate.

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Some people simply don’t care about any medical or scientific explanation. Todd comments, “No thanks! I don’t even follow the dumb arrows in the grocery store.”

People like Todd might not care about health guidelines, but Dr. Pate hopes another idea can get people to care.

“If for no other reason, do it for our economy. Do it to keep businesses open,” said Pate.

On the mask question, Chelly comments “Nope haven’t been wearing a mask or social distancing, Done with the virus/pandemic.”

“You may be done with the coronavirus, but that coronavirus is not done with you,” said Pate.

Changing your mind and deciding to wear a mask is still an option.

People like Brad comment, “I wear a mask because I care about my community.”

“There’s really no question that they are effective in reducing your risk,” said Pate.  

RELATED: 'We're tapping on the brakes': Gov. Little extends Stage 4 restrictions as Idaho's COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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