Letter: Rebuttal to mask letter

Cindy Daw submitted a letter to the editor to the Steamboat Pilot & Today entitled, “Letter: Masks — get real.” Ms. Daw erroneously asserts in her letter that the authors of an article published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” do not support the wearing of masks in the community. Contrary to Ms. Daw’s assertion, the authors of the April 1 article vigorously dispute any such false conclusions.

Specifically, on June 3, the authors of the April 1 article, published an article in the Journal entitled “Universal Masking in the COVID-19 Era” addressing similar erroneous conclusions regarding their initial article. They also clarified their position. I believe that it would be useful to quote in large part the authors’ clarification of their position regarding the wearing of masks. The authors state the following:

“We understand that some people are citing our Perspective article (published on April 1 at as support for discrediting widespread masking. In truth, the intent of our article was to push for more masking, not less. It is apparent that many people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or presymptomatic yet highly contagious and that these people account for a substantial fraction of all transmissions. Universal masking helps to prevent such people from spreading virus-laden secretions, whether they recognize that they are infected or not. … This finding is also borne out by recent research associating mask wearing with less transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in closed settings. We therefore strongly support the calls of public health agencies for all people to wear masks when circumstances compel them to be within 6 feet of others for sustained periods.”

I would encourage readers who are debating whether to wear masks when unable to physically distance to carefully review the scientific literature on point. There is ample evidence to support the use of masks by those physically able to wear them. 

Maryann P. Wall, M.D.
Steamboat Springs

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