Local expert weighs in on mask ordinance topic

Dr. Shane Speights offers his insight into the mask ordinance debate

Local expert weighs in on mask ordinance topic

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With the news that a mask ordinance was recently proposed in Jonesboro, Region 8 News talked with Dr. Shane Speights, the Dean of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University to get his input about the ordinance.

While Dr. Speights doesn’t have an opinion regarding the mandate, he does offer some research as to why wearing the mask in public is a good idea.

He says that he doesn’t like that the topic of wearing a mask has become more of a political debate than a scientific one.

The science shows that other countries like Taiwan and New Zealand have had success with mask ordinances, where the spread of COVID-19 was dramatically reduced as a result of the mandate.

He believes the U.S. hasn’t done a great job at preventing the spread of the virus and that the spread could be slowed if the majority of the population was wearing a cloth mask.

“In terms of the utility of the soft-cloth mask, if a large portion of the population uses it, it does prevent the spread of the disease from what we can tell so far,” Dr. Speights said. “It is unfortunate that it’s become more of a political controversy because the science is pretty good on it.”

The large population that Dr. Speights mentioned is 90 percent, or more, of the population. He says that the best thing to do for the economy is to stop the spread of COVID-19 and that wearing a mask is an effective way to do that.

Dr. Speights said regardless if Jonesboro or any other city in Region 8 adopt a mask ordinance, masks should be worn in public places with social distancing guidelines.

He says wearing a mask protects your neighbor.

“If people stop and think about that, certainly for those of us that have been born and raised here in the Bible Belt, that wants to do what’s right and want to do what’s right for our neighbors, I hesitate to see why people see [wanting to wear a mask] as such a wrong thing,” Dr. Speights said.

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