ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison County has submitted a mandatory mask ordinance to the state health department for approval. Right now, it would require people to wear face coverings in stores and restaurants and while using public transit services.
Decatur is looking at a similar ordinance.
Dr. Matt Hanserd with Athens-Limestone Hospital says wearing a mask significantly decreases your chances of getting COVID-19.
Hanserd also says there is no medical condition that would stop someone from wearing one of these. He went on record to debunk that theory of medical conditions and masks.
He says it is a near one in a million chance that a doctor would advise a patient to not wear one.
Hanserd says wearing a mask of any sort does not decrease your oxygen levels. He says people with lung conditions or those who already have an oxygen depletion should still wear one.
He says if people with lung or breathing problems don’t wear a mask and contract COVID-19, their probability to die from the disease is significantly higher.
“A lot of people are saying that if they have underlying health or lung conditions, but I can tell you we’ve had masks on people who are very sick even with COVID. It does not decrease oxygen levels. It doesn’t cause people to stop breathing,” Hanserd said.
Hanserd says it’s crucial for people who have underlying health conditions to wear a mask, especially those in the at-risk age group.
“If you’re over the age of 65, I absolutely recommend you wear a mask in public. The risk of dying if you contract this is so much higher than it is elsewhere in the country,” he said.
Judy Smith with the Alabama Department of Public Health also recommends you wear a mask when you're around other people.
She says her biggest concern right now is hospitalization numbers.
“If you look at the state dashboard, we have the highest number of hospitalized people in the state since this began. So are we concerned that the numbers are going to go up,” she said.
Smith says with people out and about on July Fourth weekend, she fears COVID-19 positive case numbers could be detrimental.
“I hope it proves me wrong, I truly do. This is one of the times public health would like to be wrong, but the evidence right now says we’re just not going in the direction we need to go. We’re just going in a dangerous direction,” Smith said.
Again, Hanserd says there is no medical reason that would stop you from wearing a mask.
Health officials beg you to wear a mask and social distance now and through the holiday weekend.
Hanserd says wearing a mask of any sort does NOT decrease your oxygen levels.
Another question I had was, what about people with lung conditions or those who already have an oxygen depletion.
Doctor Hanserd says those people, EVEN MORE THAN OTHERS, need to wear a mask.
He says, if people with lung or breathing problems don't wear a mask and contract COVID-19, their probability to die from the disease is significantly higher.
Hanserd says wearing a mask if better for you and everyone else around you.
“As a health care professional there’s times during the day where I wear a mask 12, 16 even 18 hours. We have surgeons who wear them continuously in cases who wear it that long as well. It is not dangerous to wear a mask and it does not cause your oxygen levels to go dow,”
You’ll hear more from health care professionals on why wearing masks are crucial for everyone’s safety