After testing positive for the novel coronavirus, Rep. Louie Gohmert theorized, “I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on, and keeping it in place, … if I might have put some germs, some of the virus on to the mask and breathed it in.“
The mask isn’t the problem. The frequent face touching and improper mask use may be. Rep. Gohmert’s description that he touched his face a lot while adjusting his mask increases the risk that he may have brought the coronavirus close to his nose and mouth. That’s why physicians and public health experts repeatedly urge people to refrain from touching their faces with their hands, to wash masks daily, to avoid sharing masks with other people and to wear masks properly, by covering the nose and mouth. The claim that masks actually “activate” COVID-19 is also unsubstantiated. In fact, the overwhelming body of evidence demonstrates masks reduce infections, including a review of 172 scientific studies that all confirmed masks can minimize coronavirus transmissions. In addition to social distancing and hand hygiene, masks can reduce risks of infection from COVID-19 with no harm to the wearer.