Local doctors discuss if Ohio and Pennsylvania should drop mask mandates


Dr. Jim Kravec and Dr. Dee Banks both believe the mask mandates are working as intended

(WKBN) – Ohioans have been under a mask mandate for seven months and Pennsylvania started its mask rule last April. Doctors believe it has worked as intended.

“That has resulted in less transfer of COVID from one patient to another, less hospitalizations and less death. I can say that definitively,” said Dr. Jim Kravec, director of Mahoning County Public Health.

The masks were up for the start of the flu season. They prevent viruses from being passed, including the coronavirus and the flu.

“If you just look at what masks have done with that, it’s significantly prevented us from having that ‘twindemic’ that we were worried about,” said Dr. Dee Banks, an infectious disease physician.

People got so worried at one point, double masking became a thing. Now that COVID-19 vaccines are available, it has changed. Texas and Mississippi are dropping mask mandates. Is it time for Ohio and Pennsylvania to think about it too?

“That’s a good question and it’s a tough question,” Dr. Banks said. “But taking off those masks, I think, is a little premature to even think about it.”

So far, 15% of Ohioans have received their vaccines.

Doctors believe there’s still some time with the masks up before we can think about taking them off.

“We get to herd immunity when enough of the population is vaccinated. That’s anywhere between 70% and 90%. That’s a high number. We’re not anywhere near that yet,” Dr. Kravec said.

Dr. Banks said she expects the CDC to come out with guidance soon on what two people can do who are vaccinated or if a group is vaccinated.

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