Why we will keep enforcing masks

UPDATE: For ongoing mask requirements at Essential Therapy following NC Executive Order 215 changes: Please keep updated here

While there is some social debate on the efficacy of masks, the science is pretty solid.

An increase in viral load- how much gets into your system- affects how intense your sickness will become. Longer exposure increases the possible viral load. Close exposure can potentially increase the viral load. A closed environment with little circulation- like a massage therapy room– increases the possible viral contact and therefore the viral load (in fact, it makes it as much as 18.7x more likely to transmit and infect someone). Even loud talking increases the viral circulation. (Here’s a less technical description of how that works.)

Masks help dampen the viral circulation. While nothing is perfect, models show that if 80% of us wear masks that are 60% effective (achievable with a densely woven homemade mask), the R0, or average transmissions per infection, can be reduced to less than one- which is where diseases go to die.

Modelled impact of mask use on reproduction rate

While this doesn’t apply directly to massage because nothing about our work is “average” in terms of exposure, a recent real world anecdote highlights the efficacy, as 2 symptomatic (and therefore highly contagious) hair stylist employees who used masks appeared to avoid transmitting to any contacts.

Certain blends of materials have been shown to have high quality filtering effects- you’ll see some of these masks in use for our higher risk clients, and this nurse (not just a nurse, her credentials include R.N., Ph.D., MBA and NEA-BC: Nurse Executive Advanced-Board Certified) designed a mask that may be more effective than an N95– with a convenient pocket for those of you who still think CO2 is an issue for a healthy person.

When your job puts you at high risk of infection, the only responsible thing to do is reduce factors as much as possible, even if it’s inconvenient. (The AC is getting a workout this year; masks are HOT when you’re doing body work!)

What about those cards you’ve seen saying “I’m not required to wear a mask”?

Face mask exemption cards are fake, Department of Justice says
A Fraudulent exemption card

Well first off, the Department of Justice (responsible for enforcing the ADA) has issued no such IDs. They are fraudulently attempting to scare business owners into complying with a non-existent exemption. (Exemptions do exist, but they are part of the local law, and not the creation of the ADA or DoJ, even if they comply with ADA regulations.) Many threaten reporting the FTB or FTBA- a made up organization called the “Freedom to Breath” or “Freedom to Breath Agency.” This is NOT a government agency.

Secondly, for any that reference HIPAA (or as many incorrectly call it HIPPA), that’s not how HIPAA works.

HIPAA is specifically about how a business, health insurance provider, health care provider, or health practitioner PROTECTS your information. It was designed to protect your information as the medical field became increasingly digital and stored information in an online and/or e-transferable format.

It means that Essential Therapy cannot tell anyone about your massage, or even if you got a massage, without your express written permission or a legal action like a warrant. It has NOTHING to do with your right to ignore mask laws (or lack thereof). The closest it would come to that is that if we talked about your mask, I couldn’t tell anyone about you, even to complain, except in very vague terms that gave no identifiable information (like a name). It does NOT affect safety regulations under any circumstances, especially a pandemic.

While we understand masks can be uncomfortable, they will continue to be required of clients and staff. We appreciate your willingness to adhere to our standards and understand if you choose not to see us during this time.

All this is to say, we will definitely be continuing the use of masks at Essential Therapy well into Phase 3, and quite possibly until there are no new cases in Charlotte. The safety of our staff and clientele is paramount, and masks are an enormous part of risk management.