To the Editor,

Jessica McGovern, in her letter to the editor, paints a scary picture about mask wearing (The Mask Cult, Oct 1).  According to Jessica the mask mandate should make us tremble: restricted flow of oxygen (“N95 masks prevent 100 percent oxygen intake,”), trapped carbon dioxide inside our masks, impaired communication, impeded learning, and a weakened immune system. Medical personnel who have been mandated to wear masks to protect their patients are in trouble, they might die of oxygen deprivation one day (they won’t).

The small print on Jessica’s box of paper masks appears to be one of the reasons she has taken it upon herself to rescue us from false information.  But why, I wonder, would we ever take seriously these nonsensical warnings (“does not supply oxygen; could result in death, and consult an Industrial Hygienist).”

Jessica continues her fear parade with Mask Mouth Illness (reported by an unknown number of dentists), as well as an increase in pneumonia which doctors are seeing.  The latter has undoubtedly something to do with some of the more serious symptoms of COVID (rather than mask wearing).  As for Mask-Mouth-Illness, the American Dental Association recommends mask wearing right on its landing page and a search on ‘mask mouth’ comes up with 0 results.  Interestingly, the idea of Mask Mouth does show up on the website of a family dental practice in Iowa (“Mask mouth is real”) – a website that, curiously, makes no mention COVID anywhere on its website.  Are we not in the middle of the worst pandemic the world has ever known, with no end in sight?

All these risks of mask wearing presume that the wearer has the mask on 24/7.  We don’t.  Mask wearing is about common sense: you wear masks when you are in unventilated areas and where social distancing is difficult because that is where the virus spreads.  I hope this puts to rest mask fears.  (I highly recommend reading the World Health Organization’s pages on Myth Busters that include many myths about masks that Jessica cites, and other rumors that are circulating on social media, based on dubious research and hearsay).

Instead of fear mongering about one of the best and cheapest ways to contain the epidemic, why not inform ourselves about the real dangers of COVID-19 and why containment requires all hands on deck?

I hope that everyone is paying attention to some disturbing trends: although the death rate among small children is very small compared to adults, it is not 0 as Jessica states.  The number of COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations is rising sharply. According to the US Government’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report of September weekly COVID-19–associated hospitalization rates rose rapidly during late June to mid-August 2021 among U.S. children and adolescents aged 0–17 years; by mid-August, the rate among children aged 0–4 years was nearly 10 times the rate 7 weeks earlier.  Worse, a rare childhood illness related to COVID is on the rise as well, it is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

To compare masks to the yellow star and compare mask wearing to child abuse is beyond the pale – I won’t even respond to that, shame on you Jessica!

Sylvia Vriesendorp, Manchester