Researchers showed that “wearing a surgical face mask did not cause gas exchange abnormalities in healthy adults or even in adults with lung function impairment” (Annals ATS, March 2021;18(3):539-541). The authors measured carbon dioxide exchange and oxygen saturation before and after wearing a surgical mask in physicians with healthy lungs and in people with severe chronic obstructive lung disease. They state that, “It is important to inform the public that the discomfort associated with mask use should not lead to unsubstantiated safety concerns as this may attenuate the application of a practice proven to improve public health.”

Article on Face Masks Blocking Breathing Retracted
A study that seemed to show that masks block air exchange (JAMA Pediatrics, June 30, 2021) was retracted by the JAMA editors because of criticism of the study’s methodology, the device used to assess carbon dioxide, and the accuracy of the measurements of carbon dioxide in inspired air (JAMA Pediatrics, published online July 16, 2021). Many other studies show that wearing a mask helps to prevent people with COVID-19 infections from spreading COVID-19 to others when they cough, sneeze or talk loudly. I recommend continuing to wear masks in indoor public places when you are around people who don’t live in your household. Masks are a minor inconvenience that may help to prevent infections with flu and other viruses as well as potential variants of COVID-19.

Delta Variant Accounts for 83 Percent of New COVID-19 Cases
In a U.S. Senate committee hearing on July 20, 2021, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that:
• The Delta variant of COVID-19 is up from 50 percent of cases on July 3, 2021 to 83 percent on July 20, 2021.
• Nearly two-thirds of the counties in the U.S. have vaccinated fewer than 40 percent of their residents.
• COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have risen by nearly 48 percent over the past week and now average 239 per day.
Make sure that you are vaccinated this year against influenza and pneumonia as well as COVID-19. The CDC expects a marked upturn in cases of all three infections this coming winter.