Certain people exempt from wearing a mask during pandemic

Anyone with a qualifying medical condition, has special needs, or an infant is exempt, Gundersen Health System's infection preventionist says

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Local medical experts say there are studies that prove wearing a mask significantly reduces the spread of the coronavirus.

While they urge everyone to take that precaution, there are some people who are exempt from wearing masks.

“Masks exemptions are very rare,” Gundersen Health System infection preventionist Megan Meller said.

Meller says anyone who has a qualifying medical condition, special need, or is a baby is exempt.

“And if you think you might have one, I encourage the public to reach out to their healthcare provider,” Meller said.

She says those with COPD or asthma do not need to worry.

“There is no data supporting that a mask makes it harder to breathe,” Meller said.

Some locals are wearing a mask outside in public as an extra preventative safety measure.

“Kinda doing my part, yeah. It can’t hurt, so why not,” Onalaska resident Jacob Dare said.

“For my health,” La Crosse resident Richard Copher said. “You know, it’s a good thing.”

Yet some people decide not to.

“Usually, I can keep a good distance away from people, so I don’t wear the mask,” La Crosse resident Ernest Moyer said. “I’m not going into any businesses.”

Wearing a mask outside is your own personal preference.

“You know, they’re not perfect,” Meller said. “They’re not surgical masks by any means.”

Meller acknowledges if you don’t wear a mask, you may not get sick at all or only experience minor symptoms.

“But that’s not to say that next person you expose…won’t get seriously sick and potentially die from COVID-19,” Meller said.

Moyer says he’ll wear a mask if he needs to.

“Even though it sounds like a hypocrite not wearing my mask right now…It’s a minor sacrifice to make to save a lot of problems,” Moyer said.

The CDC recommends everyone older than two years to wear a mask when out in public, unless they have problems breathing or cannot take the mask off themselves.