Dear Dr. Wes,
I was quite entertained by your article regarding “we don’t need no stinking masks.” (RC May 19, Dr. Wes Browning’s “‘Masks? We don’t need no masks. We don’t need to show you any stinking masks.’”)
It did come across as judgmental with the idea that the CDC is trying to incentivize Americans to get vaccinated. The CDC studied recent data that showed a relatively low or no transmission of SARS-COV-2 in those vaccinated and therefore provided this updated recommendation. I’ve maintained two major ideologies: If masks work, then they should be permanent, because masking should not be reserved for just one (COVID-19) but all droplet-based pathogens (Influenza, RSV, SARS, etc.); masking is, however, a spread-specific method (airborne vs. droplet). If masks do not work (they don’t for droplet-based precautions after carefully reviewing the evidence), then they should be eradicated.
So the real translation from the CDC’s reversal (again) on masks is they are essentially ineffective in mitigating spread of any droplet-based pathogen. I’ve told all of my patients, “Feel free to wear a mask. Wear two. Wear a hazmat suit. Do what makes you feel comfortable.”
As a physician, I think we must always respect patient autonomy. So although I don’t agree with anti-vaxxers, in a free society, they must be allowed to pursue what makes them feel comfortable. A concept foreign to many in these tough times.
Thanks for the article!
— M. Patel, MD
Read more of the June 16-22, 2021 issue.