Facts Matter: Pneumonia not caused by wearing face mask

  • A health care worker attends a demonstration to demand improvement of Spain's public health system Monday in Madrid. Wearing a mask won't cause pneumonia, medical experts say.

    A health care worker attends a demonstration to demand improvement of Spain's public health system Monday in Madrid. Wearing a mask won't cause pneumonia, medical experts say.

  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks Tuesday at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del. The former vice president last month asserted without evidence that President Donald Trump is trying to defund the U.S. Postal Service to thwart mail-in voting efforts. Last week, Trump tweeted that Biden was given questions ahead of a press conference and read the answers off a teleprompter; an Associated Press who was there says that's not true.

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks Tuesday at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del. The former vice president last month asserted without evidence that President Donald Trump is trying to defund the U.S. Postal Service to thwart mail-in voting efforts. Last week, Trump tweeted that Biden was given questions ahead of a press conference and read the answers off a teleprompter; an Associated Press who was there says that's not true. Associated Press photos

 
 
Updated 7/6/2020 11:30 AM

A social media post by a woman running for congressional seat in Florida falsely claims wearing a face mask can cause an infection.

"Excessive use of face masks causes fungal and bacterial pneumonia," said Jessi Melton, who is running in Florida's 22nd District. The post was retweeted more than 16,000 times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Normal use of a face mask will not cause fungal or bacterial pneumonia, according to experts quoted by the Associated Press.

"There's no evidence to back up this claim," George Washington University epidemiologist Anne Monroe told the AP. "The idea that contamination could cause fungal pneumonia is not a valid conclusion."

Davidson Hamer, infectious disease specialist and professor at Boston University, told the AP face masks don't do any harm, beyond a little discomfort.

"There's no evidence of masks leading to fungal or bacterial infections of the upper airway or the lower airway as in pneumonia," he said.

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Hamer said theoretically bacterial growth could occur if someone wore a mask that contained moisture and it became moldy.

"I don't know why anybody would do that," he said, adding such a mask should be discarded.

"It's so highly unlikely (an infection would develop) with normal mask use," he said. "There's a real danger at spreading incorrect information like this, especially at a time when we really need to be encouraging more people to wear masks."

Post office comment not backed up

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden last month said President Donald Trump was trying to defund the U.S. Postal Service to ensure that mail-in ballots are not delivered.

Trump criticized both the postal service for losing money and the use of mail-in ballots for the November election, but there is no evidence he linked the two issues, according to FactCheck.org.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While speaking during a June 23 virtual fundraiser with former president Barack Obama, Biden said Trump "wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots."

The Postal Service is losing more money than in previous years because of the coronavirus pandemic, but a spokesman told FactCheck the ability to deliver mail this year will not be affected.

The Postal Service has reported cumulative net losses of more than $83 billion since 2007, FactCheck said.

Trump has criticized the post office's finances for years. But there is no instance of the president saying he wants to inhibit the Postal Service's ability to handle mail-in ballots, FactCheck said.

Press questions not leaked to Biden

Following a news conference last week by presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, President Donald Trump claimed Biden was given questions from members of the press ahead of the event and was reading the answers off a teleprompter.

Trump made the claim on Twitter Wednesday and repeated it during an interview on "America This Week."

But Biden didn't know the questions before they were asked nor did he read answers from a teleprompter, according to The Associated Press.

The first question, which was asked by an AP reporter, was not submitted in advance, the AP said.

The president's allegation is "laughable, ludicrous, and a lie," Biden campaign press secretary TJ Ducklo told the AP.

Biden used a teleprompter for prepared remarks before opening it up to questions, the AP said. While answering questions, Biden looked at the reporters, not the teleprompter, and, at that time, it appeared the teleprompter was turned off.

Mural of people wearing masks created this year

Some social media users recently shared artwork showing people wearing face masks to try to claim COVID-19 was planned as part of a world domination scheme.

Photos of the mural claimed the art was displayed in 1994 at the Denver airport and stated, "PLANDEMIC" and "Illuminati artworks on display."

The painting was created after the pandemic began, and it was never displayed in the Denver airport, according to PolitiFact.com.

Filipino artist CJ Trinidad in February posted images of the artwork, including photos of the work in progress and shots of him with the piece, on his Facebook page, PolitiFact said. His signature is on the bottom-right corner of the mural.

Various claims falsely attribute the mural to other artists and other creation dates.

Alex Renteria, spokesman for the Denver airport, told PolitiFact that the artwork was never displayed there.

"The only mural painted in 1994 for DEN featuring international children wearing traditional clothing and that also features flags is Leo Tanguma's 'Children of the World Dream of Peace,' but none are wearing masks," he said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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