Did CDC mask advice drive up COVID death toll for health workers?

Did CDC mask advice drive up COVID death toll for health workers?

“The whole thing is upside down the way it is currently framed,” said Dr. Michael Klompas, a Harvard Medical School associate professor who called aerosol-generating procedures a “misnomer” in a recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It’s a huge mistake,” he said.

The growing body of studies showing aerosol spread of COVID-19 during choir practice, on a bus, in a restaurant and at gyms have caught the eye of the public and led to widespread interest in better masks and ventilation.

Yet the topic has been highly controversial within the healthcare industry. For over a year, international and U.S. nurse union leaders have called for health workers caring for possible or confirmed COVID patients to have the highest level of protection, including N95 masks.

But a widespread group of experts have long insisted that N95s be reserved for those performing aerosol-generating procedures and that it’s safe for front-line workers to care for COVID patients wearing less-protective surgical masks.

Such skepticism about general aerosol exposure within the healthcare setting have driven CDC guidelines, supported by national and California hospital associations.

The guidelines still say a worker would not be considered “exposed” to COVID-19 after caring for a sick COVID patient while wearing a surgical mask. Yet in recent months, Klompas…

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