The concept of wearing masks has been debated throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many questioning if they needed to wear them and claiming it was their right not to, especially as President Trump, who has since contracted the virus, refused to wear a mask in public. However, those claiming they do more harm and cause more breathing issues have officially been proven wrong in a new study.
In a study published in the “Annals of the American Thoracic Society,” it was determined that the use of surgical masks or cloth face coverings does not restrict the amount of oxygen a person breathes in or cause a dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide in the lungs. The study included 30 participants, fifteen of whom were military veterans with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while the other 15 served as healthy control subjects.
Participants wore masks for 30 minutes with no activity, before walking for an additional 6 while still wearing the coverings. After conducting standard blood tests, researchers found no difference in the levels of oxygen or carbon dioxide for any of the participants.
Researchers concluded that the study proved that mask use was critical when it came to helping slow the spread of the disease, which has so far killed more than 200,000 people in the United States.
“We believe our data will help mitigate fears about the health risks of surgical mask use and improve public confidence for more widespread acceptance and use,” the researchers wrote.
According to NBC News, the study was conducted in part due to the resistance that has been met to mask use, specifically in Florida, where residents in West Palm Beach expressed anger and claimed the masks caused more problems at a commissioners’ meeting there in June, where leaders voted to mandate masks.
Protesters in the state later took to a Target store in September, walking through the building without masks and shouting at others in the store to take theirs off as well.
The study’s findings also come as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that he wouldn’t shut the state down again even if COVID cases spiked again, and also banned local municipalities from fining those who refused to wear face coverings.