Medical experts are urging people to keep wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but Kalamazoo County’s health officer admits they can be stifling in hot weather. Jim Rutherford says people have to find a face covering that works for them, which might mean opting for one that’s thinner or less extensive.
“It’s OK to try to find a lighter mask,” Rutherford told WMUK. “You certainly want to be able to use it when you’re in close contact.”
Breaks can help too. “When you’re outdoors and you’re able to maintain that six feet of distance from another individual, it’s OK to lower that mask and get some fresh air,” he said.
Rutherford added that a surgical mask is one good lightweight option. And even a light face covering is better than nothing.
“I see a lot of people without masks in social environments. This continues to hit the elderly population the hardest,” Rutherford said, adding that he’s seeing more gatherings where no one is wearing a mask.
“Oftentimes whenever there’s alcohol involved, people, you know they lower their inhibitions and the likelihood of mask-wearing gets a little less likely.”
Rutherford says coronavirus testing in the county has shown infection rates as low as two percent. But the rate was higher, about five percent, at a recent Family Health Center testing of about 130 people.