Health Care Experts on Masks & Coronavirus

Mar 10, 2020

As local health care workers prepare for the coronavirus outbreak, they want to teach people about masks, how to wear them, and their limitations.

Even though the Quad Cities has no reported cases of COVID-19, Michelle O'Neill reports there's definitely confusion about masks.


All the doctors and nurses who belong to the local response team agree. Masks give people a false sense of security. Dr. Louis Katz, Medical Director of the Scott County Health Department, says there's "absolutely no evidence" a mask will prevent a well person from getting an infection. And health care workers will need a ready supply of masks if the coronavirus spreads rapidly and "gets bad." 

Lisa Caffery is the Infection Prevention Coordinator at Genesis Health System. She say the hospitals have had to stop providing masks at entrances because instead of taking just one, people were taking whole boxes. 

Caffery also says people should use masks properly. Both the nose and mouth must be covered, and then masks mainly protect other people from an infected person's coughs and sneezes. 

The doctors and nurses say if you're already sick, go ahead and wear a mask. But make sure to wash your hands frequently and clean surfaces, too. The coronavirus and common flu are spread by large droplets that immediately settle onto surfaces where you pick them up. 

Dr. Katz says it won't hurt for those who aren't sick to wear masks. But the supply of masks is very important because health care workers and first responders are at a much higher risk than the general public. 

The health care experts also added a "C" to the three Cs of "Clean, Cover, and Contain." The fourth "C" is for those who have symptoms to "Call" before going to the hospital, doctor's office, and other health care centers. Then employees can isolate those who are sick from other people.

More information is available on the Rock Island and Scott County health department websites, and online at the CDC.