Wichita pulmonary specialist straightens out fact vs. fiction with wearing masks

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 10:34 PM CDT
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Starting Friday, July 3,

begins, meaning until further notice, you should wear a cloth mask if you plan to be in public and around other people. Eyewitness News Monday spoke with a pulmonary care physician in an effort to separate myths from reality when it comes to masks.

"We want to be able to be active and have people in the community and have people working, and have people participating in activities without spreading the disease broadly," Dr. Chloe Steinshouer said.

Like other doctors in the area of pulmonary care, Dr. Steinshouer has spent the last few months helping her patients with the new normal.

She said shes' been asked if masks are helpful or hurtful.

"I have (answered) a lot of questions about it, and of course, I see the memes shared on social media," Dr. Steinshouer said.

She said she understands where some of the confusion can come from as the recommendations on masks have changed a few times since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She said that's because health professionals have learned more over time.

"You don't need to wear a mask when you're at home. You don't need to wear a mask in your car. We're asking you to wear a mask when you're around people," Dr. Steinshouer said.

Among the mixed messages, Dr. Steinshouer said, are concerns about breathing problems and masks lowering oxygen levels.

"If that were true, surgeons wouldn't be able to operate," she said. "...Their oxygen levels would drop dangerously low to operate on people. The same with our nurses and our healthcare workers as well."

Dr. Steinshouer also said masks do not leader to increased carbon dioxide levels. She said cloth or surgical masks fit loosely enough for carbon dioxide to escape.

"What we know is these are safe to wear. They don't reduce your oxygen level, they don't increase your carbon dioxide level," she said.

While we may not see the effects right away of more people wearing masks," Dr. Steinshouer said those in the medical community do.

"It helps protect us in regards to keeping the numbers in the hospital low," she said. "It helps us keep the numbers in the community low. It helps keep everyone healthier. We keep it out of the nursing homes, we keep it away from our parents and our grandparents."