Contact: Rick Fuentes
(St. Paul) – July 2, 2020 – The Minnesota Nurses Association firmly supports policies of mandatory masks and face coverings as a necessary measure to protect the public and stave off a resurgence of the vicious COVID-19 virus that has ravaged this state. The Board of Directors voted to support this policy and urge lawmakers at every level to enact mandatory mask orders and ordinances statewide.
Nurses support policies requiring the use of cloth face coverings, in the context of a broader public health response, for the following reasons:
- When used in the context of a broader public health response, policies requiring the use of cloth face coverings may help slow the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Asymptomatic transmission is a significant concern in how rapidly and easily this virus can cause COVID-19. Mandatory use for those who can wear cloth face coverings, rather than only requiring symptomatic individuals to wear masks, may reduce asymptomatic transmission.
Nurses also acknowledge that cloth face coverings are not a substitute for other protective measures. A cloth face covering may protect others from the wearer’s respiratory secretions, but it does not protect the wearer. At most, wearing face masks may provide a small additional protection to others by reducing the release of infectious particles into the air when the wearer speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face coverings, in contrast with the N95 filtering facepiece (or respirator) commonly used by health care workers, have neither the particle filtration mechanism nor the airtight face seal design to filter at least 95 percent of infectious particles.
MNA nurses stress that policies requiring the use of cloth face coverings in public are not a replacement for physical distancing policies and that cloth face coverings should not be used in healthcare settings. Other measures are necessary to protect the public, including, workplace protections for nurses and other essential workers and paid sick leave and family leave policies to enable workers to stay home if they feel sick or have tested positive for COVID-19. Nurses will continue to support physical distancing policies, including stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, as the most effective method for reducing the spread of infection.
The decisions to protect the public must be made based on the ability to provide needed care, not to achieve profits or cost-savings.
The full statement of support by the MNA Board can be found here: https://mnnurses.org/resources/coronavirus/nurses-support-mandatory-cloth-face-covering-policies-as-one-measure-among-many-to-protect-public-health/