Santa Clara County has recently mandated that everyone, including patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers, must wear face masks in public patient care areas in hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. This directive, as reported by Mercury News, is not a temporary measure but is set to last throughout the "winter respiratory virus period."
The mask mandate is scheduled to run from November 1 to the end of March, a full five months, despite the declining number of COVID cases.
Marin County has followed suit, implementing a similar order. Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Sonoma counties are also joining the trend, requiring their healthcare workers to wear masks in patient care areas starting this week.
Health officials are urging residents to stock up on rapid COVID tests. The federal government, under President Biden's administration, has reinstated the program that provides free COVID tests. Since September 25, consumers have been able to request a shipment of four rapid at-home tests through the USPS site.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told KTVU that medical professionals are uncertain about what will happen during this flu season, hence the decision to adopt a cautious approach. However, not everyone in the healthcare industry is in agreement.
"We're over it," an anonymous hospital worker told KTVU. "Our patients, we still don't know if they're coming in with Covid, but it doesn't scare me."
Health officials across the state are also encouraging anyone above the age of 6 months to get the latest COVID 19 vaccine, flu shot, and for vulnerable populations, the RSV vaccine.
However, several studies have suggested that continuous and long-term use of face masks could lead to health implications.
In April, The Gateway Pundit reported on a German study that reveals that using a face mask during pregnancy may increase the chance of stillbirth, testicular dysfunction, and cognitive decline in children.
When worn for extended periods of time, facial coverings may increase the risk of mild carbon dioxide (CO2) poisoning, according to a review of 43 previously published studies on exposure to CO2, mask-wearing, and pregnancy by German researchers.
Researchers in Germany found that elevated levels of carbon dioxide in pregnant women were associated with an increased risk of birth defects.
The German researchers reviewed a study that found that even short-term exposure to concentrations of CO2 as low as 0.3% caused brain damage, increased anxiety, and impaired memory in both pregnant rats and young mice. Testicular cells and sperm were destroyed in another study when male mice were exposed to 2.5 percent CO2 for four hours, the human equivalent of which is 0.5 percent. A third study found that stillbirth and birth defects occurred in pregnant rats exposed to 3 percent CO2 (equal to 0.8 percent for humans).
A study from researchers at Jeonbuk National University in South Korea, released in April and quietly being re-shared, suggests the “gold standard” surgical N95 masks may expose users to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
A study reported by the NCBI, which is under the National Institutes of Health, showed that masks do absolutely nothing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and their use is even harmful.
The study concludes (emphasis added):
The existing scientific evidence[s] challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize [a] proper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.
Even the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has released a statement challenging the effectiveness and ethicality of mask mandates for respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. The AAPS argues that not only are these mandates ineffective in stopping the spread of respiratory viruses, but they also pose potential health risks and infringe upon individuals’ rights to informed medical consent.
“Government recommendations and mandates regarding face coverings have been contradictory, provided to the public as authoritative without evidence, are in conflict with the available data, and neglect to mention any potential harm from use of coverings or masks,” the association added.
In challenging the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19, the AAPS cited a Cochrane systemic review. The review found no clear evidence suggesting that medical or surgical masks were effective in reducing respiratory viral infections among healthcare workers when compared to N95/P2 respirators.