BOISE, Idaho — The debate over face masks continues to rage on with hashtags on social media like #UnmaskAmerica and #MasksOffIdaho. These two hashtags were from a post this weekend in The 208's Facebook group from Rep. Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton).
Nichols was responding to a post asking The 208 to look into why Idaho's COVID-19 numbers are "spiraling out of control" and "what, if anything, is being done to slow it down?".
The post received 120 comments with ideas ranging from shutting down businesses again to slow the spread of the virus, to some suggesting the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax. Eventually, commenters began debating over masks and their effectiveness.
Nichols responded to the post with this comment:
Her post, which included a link to a CDC study from July, said the majority (74%) of COVID-19 patients interviewed in the study reported always wearing a mask.
"A full 88.7% of those who became sick with COVID wore a mask always or often. #UnmaskAmerica #MasksOffIdaho," she wrote.
The report found that 71% of positive COVID-19 patients studied reported always using face masks when in public. The study also found that 74% of negative patients always wore a mask in public.
However, that was just one page of a seven-page report.
The CDC study set out to examine exposures of COVID-19. In order to do that, researchers compared exposures reported by positive patients with exposures reported by negative patients.
Researchers found both groups generally reported the same community exposures, like shopping, going to a salon or going to the gym, with one exception: restaurants.
Positive patients were approximately twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to their illness.
This finding helped researchers conclude that exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, like when eating and drinking at restaurants, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19, even if you wear a mask at all other times while in public.
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