Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.

Note: with the elections Tuesday and the expected delay in learning the actual results, it is expected everyone’s focus will be on the political aspects of the pandemic.  As a result, this column has been limited to a single issue – the wearing of cloth facial coverings – masks.


146. Wearing masks protects the public from contracting COVID-19.

          Q:  My neighbor refuses to wear a mask when we meet outside. Do masks really affect the spread of this disease? 

          A:  Vanderbilt University researchers observed that several counties in Tennessee had different regulations concerning wearing of masks when in public.  The University conducted a study to take advantage of this circumstance.  On October 28, they reported their findings.  Melissa McPheeters, PhD, a research professor at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center stated, “All of Tennessee has experienced an upsurge and an increase in those hospitalizations, but it’s hitting the hardest those hospitals that are drawing their patients from non-masked mandated counties.”

The growth in hospitalizations based on the percentage of patients they treated from counties with mask requirements between July 1 and October 20. 2020.

Hospitals with 1% – 25%           Hospitals with 26% – 50%
of patients from counties            of patients from counties
with mask requirements             with mask requirements

Growth in hospitalizations
relative to July 1, 2020


Hospitals with 51% – 75%              Hospitals with >75%
      of patients from counties                of patients from counties
with mask requirement                   with mask requirements


Growth in hospitalizations
relative to July 1, 2020


The study found that in Tennessee, hospitals where less than 25% of patients came from counties with a mask mandate, hospitalizations rose more than 200% between July 1 and October 20.

Hospitals in which 26%-59% of the patients were from counties with mask mandates saw hospitalizations rise by about 100% from July 1.

In hospitals where patients came from more than 75% of patients were under mask mandates, there were virtually no change in level of hospitalizations in the study period.

The conclusion:  Masks significantly contribute to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19.

147.  In Hartford, a judge will rule this week on a request to block the decision to require school children to wear masks

          Q: I read that Connecticut is in court defending the decision to require students attending school to wear masks.  Is this true?

          A:  On October 31, the Hartford Courant reported that a day-long hearing had just been conducted before the Hartford District Court in Connecticut.  Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher heard testimony to determine if masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Weeks before, a group of parents and the Connecticut Freedom Alliance had sued the Connecticut Education Department asking that the requirement that children attending classes in schools wear a face mask.  The claim was made that children wearing face masks are harmed both mentally and physically.  The plaintiffs called on a Los Angeles psychiatrist who said masks can inhibit development, cause stress and lead to other complications for children.  Also cited was the risk of oxygen depravation that can lead to permanent neurological damage in children.  The state presented the conclusion of the CDC that masks provide “source control,” reducing the chance that the wearer can spread the disease to others.  Also cited in the hearing was that not wearing masks is a strategy of “herd immunity,” where everyone is encouraged to become infected to gain immunity – a discredited program that Connecticut is not following.  The state also stated they have issued individual waivers of this rule when parents have made requests; therefore, an injunction is not required.

Judge Moukawsher stated that by early this week, he would announce if he made the decision to issue an injunction to stop the requirement for children wearing masks in schools.