Mask Exemption Statement
Dear patients and caregivers,
We are here to help you stay healthy and safe during the COVID–19 pandemic. This is a very difficult and uncertain time. However, one thing is certain, the benefits of wearing a mask outweigh the risks. We support Governor Walz’s executive order that mandates a mask be worn while indoors in public places.
The best available evidence shows that wearing a mask in public reduces the spread of COVID–19 and also offers some protection to the wearer. In addition, studies have shown that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels remain stable among people wearing masks. It is very unlikely for oxygen levels to decrease or carbon dioxide levels to rise while wearing the type of masks recommended by the CDC. In general, people with asthma, both young and old, are not at risk of trouble breathing by wearing facial coverings. Therefore, the providers and nurses at Child and Teen Medical Center (CTMC) will not provide mask exemption letters.
We anticipate that very few of our patients will need a mask exemption. There are very few legitimate medical reasons why a person cannot mask. The CDC’s exemptions are children under age 2 years, and anyone who is having trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Although “anyone with trouble breathing” is included in this list, the vast majority of our patients are able to safely wear a mask. Patients with very severe lung disease and very low lung function (below 30%), or those in the midst of an exacerbation, may not be able to mask. We recognize there are some patients in our practice with special behavioral and developmental reasons that make masking impossible. In that case we ask that you reach out to your primary care provider for guidance. If you or your child really cannot wear a mask because of the severity of lung disease, we recommend you strictly avoid situations where wearing a mask is recommended, such as going out in public or participating in sports, as this would inherently be too high risk for someone with such severe lung disease.
The most common reason that people have trouble with masks are the material or fit of the mask. You may have to try different options to find the best mask for you or your child. When choosing a mask it does not have to be tight-fitting. Many can wear a loose-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth, but does not fall off. It should not be so tight around the ears and neck that it makes breathing uncomfortable. A loose-fitting mask does not really protect the wearer, but does decrease spread of respiratory droplets and protects others. Wearing a mask for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable for anyone. If this is the case for you or your child, we are happy to provide our desensitization protocol to help improve mask tolerance.
If your child cannot wear a mask because it interferes with breathing, and you have tried implementing our desensitization protocol, please schedule an in-person appointment with your CTMC provider. Your child will need to keep their mask on for the duration of the visit. We will examine them while the mask is on and monitor their oxygen saturations. If necessary, a 6-minute walk test that measures their oxygen level with activity may be ordered.
The safety and health of our patients, families, and community is our top priority. Until pediatric doses of the COVID19 are available, wearing a mask, excellent hand hygiene, and social distancing are the best defenses we have.
Desensitization protocol from our friends at CRCCS: https://www.crccs.com/covid-19-information/teaching-your-child-to-tolerate-wearing-a-mask-tips-and-guidelines/
The providers and staff of Child and Teen Medical Center
Kaylee Adams, PNP
Jennifer Benton, PNP
Catherine Chang, MD
John Hollerud, MD
Alexandra Reif, PNP
Jennifer Rousseau, MD
Fadel Sakkal, MD
Stephen Sitrin, MD