Chief physician at NHRMC says wear a cloth mask even when walking the dog

Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 at 3:45 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The chief physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center is urging local residents to follow the additional guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear masks in public as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Philip Brown says you should wear a cloth mask or facial covering now, even when you’re out walking the dog.

“Well, I mean, I think it’s one of those things you just never know who you might run into so just be prepared on your walk home,” Dr. Brown, Chief Physician at NHRMC said. “Certainly if you’re in wide open space and there’s nobody in sight you really don’t need it, but if you were to come in close contact with someone, you need it so if you didn’t have it you’d be unprepared.”

Brown says the cloth masks are especially important for people who may be a carrier of the coronavirus but have no symptoms.

“The biggest thing about the masks is that it likely prevents you if you’re an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 from being likely to transmit it to someone else," he said. "Of course the addition of the masks is is on top of the pre-existing measures of six-foot physical spacing, frequent hand washing and avoiding social gatherings so the four things are now meant to be additive and that’s a really important concept. This does not replace those measures but it’s in addition to and it keeps you from likely being able to transmit the virus and possibly gives you some protection from others as well.”

While there has been debate on whether wearing masks in public has advantages, Brown says it has proven successful in other parts of the world.

He says the masks also have physical and visual benefits.

“In my experience, having a mask on actually makes you less likely to touch your face because you realize it’s different and you’re not supposed to touch it so much it’s a cue," Brown explained. “It’s also a visual cue to other people to help them recognize something is different so not perhaps to get within that 6 foot perimeter of someone wearing a mask so it’s kind of a combination of physical barrier and visual cue that makes it effective.”

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