KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - At a Brookside Price Chopper, the vast majority of people were wearing masks and those who weren’t didn’t want to talk about it.

“It makes me sad that wearing a mask has become associated with fear,” Price Chopper shopper Yvonne Carter said.

An article on a right-leaning website, repeating, then recently correcting a claim from a neurosurgeon that mask risks, “vary from headaches, to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, to hypoxia,” which could make people pass out.

“I know that to be completely false. How would any medical people ever work if it caused hypoxia?” Kansas City resident Julie McBride questioned.

But hypoxia hype has taken hold in numerous countries. So, KCTV5 News checked with an infectious disease specialist at the KU Health System. He says the theory that masks mean a dangerous imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide doesn’t hold up in reality.

“Whether you're wearing a cotton mask or even a surgical mask, you have the outlet on the sides of the mask,” Dr. Hawkinson with KU Health System said.

The logical next question is then wouldn’t viruses get out too? Not like you’d think, he says.

“The gas molecules that you breathe in and breathe out, are 10,000 times smaller than any virus,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

He says, sure, masks aren’t 100% effective. That’s why distancing and hand washing are important.

“A lot of people don’t like wearing them because they feel like they get to hot and they can’t breathe in them. But it’s better to deal with it temporarily than being on a ventilator. Talking about not breathing,” Kansas City resident Sparkle Brown said.

Dr. Hawkinson says medical staff who wear tight-fitting masks for hours on end do get headaches, but they still wear them because the good outweighs a headache.

He also acknowledges one exception on the oxygen flow issue. People with lung conditions like COPD.

“That is even going to be a small proportion of people with COPD, or other lung type diseases,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

Of course, the key anti-mask argument, from a high-profile protest in Michigan to social media sparring, is individual freedom. But Hawkinson says the mask is less to protect you than others.

And the, “I’m not sick,” argument only held until it became clear the virus can be spread without symptoms.

“I think unfortunately in a global pandemic “you do you” does not necessarily work. It’s more of let’s do us. And let’s protect one another,” Kansas City resident Yvonne Carter said.

The KU Health System recently went to a policy of “universal masking,” having all staff, even those without patient contact, wear masks.

To increase supply for those folks, they are asking for donations of homemade cloth masks.

Universal masking at The University of Kansas Health System is creating a need for homemade masks. While surgical masks are worn by employees who work with patients, other employees are now required to wear a cloth mask while at work.

The health system is accepting donations at two locations. The Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Pavilion (2650 Shawnee Mission pkwy, Westwood Kansas 66205 7am-7pm) and Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric shop in Lenexa (12116 West 95th Street Lenexa KS 66215, during store hours).

Donated masks should be laundered and from a smoke free environment. The masks will help keep patients, visitors and employees safe… following CDC guidelines to wear a mask when leaving your home.

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