The Benefits of Face Masks are Beyond Dispute

At Hoag Hospital, we value our employees, our physicians and our community. We demonstrate that value by following the best available science. The Hoag team has closely adhered to CDC guidelines throughout theCOVID-19 pandemic. Initial assumptions that the novel coronavirus could only be transmitted by those exhibiting symptoms gave way in April to the realization that infected people without symptoms were unknowingly spreading the disease to others. The CDC responded to this new information by calling for universal masking in public spaces.

The evolution of the CDC guidance should not erode our confidence in public health experts nor the scientific data upon which they rely. Rather, it reflects the best of our ability to quickly assimilate new information and adapt accordingly. We now know that infected people expel the coronavirus into the air around them when they breathe, speak and cough. The virus travels in droplets and in aerosol spray and lingers in the air. It is beyond dispute that face masks prevent coronavirus transmission.

It is unfortunate that wearing face masks has become politicized and that so many have invoked their personal freedom to subject others to risk while rejecting this simple act of civic responsibility. The Rev. Peter Marshall, U.S. Senate chaplain, said, “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please but as the opportunity to do what is right.”

The modern Hippocratic oath continues: “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” Physicians are bound by the Hippocratic oath to not just “do no harm” but to act to prevent disease and protect the health of the public. We have a duty not only to our individual patients but to our society. The medical staff of Hoag Hospital takes this oath seriously and is committed to the health and well-being of our community.

Written by Michael Hurwitz, M.D., Chief of Staff at Hoag.