It's time to unmask our children

Dr. Nesheiwat: Mask guidance is outdated

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat and former NFL player Jack Brewer discuss the ‘hypocrisy’ of celebrities attending the Super Bowl without masks while children are still being required to mask in schools.

This past weekend, the Super Bowl enlightened us not just because the Bengals tragically lost in the last minute of the big game, but because we saw a false pretense, a façade of virtuous character among our leaders and lawmakers insisting we mask up.

But yet they don’t conform to their own social and moral standards. Leaders lead by setting an example for others. But when that doesn’t happen, we lose trust, respect, and credibility – while simultaneously forcing children to cover their faces all day long in school, which at this point is harmful to our kids.

Is it really that bad? Yes. At this time, masking children is more harmful than COVID itself for most children, the lowest risk group who have a near-zero mortality rate from coronavirus – 0.24% to be exact.

When children cover their faces, they cover their personalities, their expressions. Facial expressions are the most vital and valuable aspect of human to human communication and interaction – the way a child conveys his thoughts, emotions, ideas, intentions. Their face indicates physical or psychological distress and that’s not to mention nonverbal communication expressing fear, anger sadness, or pain, all of which impacts social engagement, growth, personality, confidence, and behavior. It makes me wonder whether alterations or deprivation of these necessities at an early age will be responsible for mental illness later in life.

Covering a child’s face is closing the window to a child’s mental and physical state, dampening their personality, cognitive processes and hindering their emotions and enculturation. In the words of psychologist Silvan Tomkins, “the face is the seat of emotion.” And whether a child expresses excitement or anguish, it must be acknowledged, but this is not possible with the only eyes exposed due to mask coverage of 80% of a child’s face. 

We cannot wear masks in perpetuity.

I’ve had patients come in with worsening speech impediments, rashes and infections on the face, eye infections from fiddling with their masks and touching their eyes and nose. The World Health Organization does not recommend masking for children under age 5 and only optional for those ages 6 to 11. This begs the question as to why the U.S. guidance is outdated and obsolete, especially at a time when hospitalizations and cases have plummeted by over 80%. Yet we have not updated our policy and guidelines to reflect such even though we’ve achieved our goals, accomplished our mission. We “flattened the curve,” but protocols have not been appropriately modified.

There is no solid concrete data that indicates significant benefit to masking a toddler. I see firsthand the detrimental impact it has on our children. The burden of protection is placed on our children, the least vulnerable and lowest risk population. This defies truth, it defies logic, it defies science. The backward protocol needs to be lifted. Current policies are obsolete and must be modified accordingly.

We cannot wear masks in perpetuity. It should be an option, a choice for anyone. COVID is no longer an emergency. We have come to a point in time where cases are gone: In my last shift Wednesday night, of all my sick patients, I only had one positive case. I can tell you firsthand from the front lines we are in a reprieve. I don’t know how long it will last, but holding up an umbrella outside when there’s no rain and only sunshine makes no sense.

Let’s not forget we have a 94% seroprevalence in the United States. That means most Americans have either had a vaccine or have natural immunity from previous infection. Also, we now have antivirals meds to treat COVID. We have monoclonal antibodies, we finally have enough tests, and thanks to Operation Warp Speed, we have life-saving vaccines.

Time to move on. 

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