Dr. Teresa Frankovich, Humboldt County’s public health officer, took numerous questions from local reporters on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic today — reopening, masking, bad kinds of hand sanitizers and more — and the county has released her answers to those questions in the video above.
Below: A rough summary of questions asked and answers given, with timestamps corresponding to the video.
(0:00) Some say masks create complications for some people. Breathing issues and nosebleeds are among some of the issues that have been reported. [According to whoever asked this question. —Ed.] Are there any other risks [Ibid. —Ed.]?
There are no documented health risks of wearing masks, Dr. Frankovich says. There is no evidence that they induce low oxygen, as has been rumored online. But if you already have difficulties breathing — from asthma or COPD, for example — and your mask exacerbates them, then you don’t have to wear one, and that’s in the law. However, a very lightweight cloth mask is unlikely to cause such complications.
A reminder: My mask protects you, your mask protects me. The point is to decrease the number of virus-containing droplets going out into the air.
(2:50) How does the county’s mask order differ from the state’s?
The biggest difference is the age range, Dr. Frankovich says. Our order said that children between two and 12 were “encouraged” to mask up; the governor only says that children under two should not wear masks.
(3:40) Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration announced a list of nine hand sanitizers that could be toxic if used. How can we tell if certain sanitizers can be toxic if absorbed through the skin or ingested?
It’s always good to read the ingredients on the label, Dr. Frankovich says. Ethyl alcohol is the best all-around sanitizer, and it has to be at least 60 percent to be effective. Isopropyl alcohol is an alternative, but that shouldn’t be used by kids under nine unsupervised — it can be absorbed by the skin if overused, and it can be dangerous if that happens, or if it’s ingested.
Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is the type of alcohol referenced in this FDA warning. It’s highly toxic and should not be used in hand sanitizer.
(5:20) Humboldt County Schools are busily planning for what instruction will look like in the fall, with many advising parents that it will probably involve a hybrid model of in-person instruction and distance learning. What advice are you giving local school districts, and what do you think the most crucial factors will be in determining whether in-person instruction can be safe in K-12 schools this fall?
There have been a lot of conversations, Dr. Frankovich. We all agree that in-person instruction is best, but all schools are different in their population, and their layout, and how it’s structured. The county has been working with schools to determine…