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Study finds mask wearing doesn’t cause oxygen levels to drop

How early was COVID-19 spreading in New York City?

A new study about mask wearing during the coronavirus pandemic found that masks don’t cause a person’s oxygen levels to drop.

Mask use has become standard to curb the spread of COVID-19, but that’s led many people to question whether masks could cause harm.

One common question has been whether masks might prevent someone from getting enough oxygen. One group of Canadian researchers did a simple experiment to find out, and the results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Researchers recruited 25 people over 65 years old to measure their oxygen saturations with a portable pulse oximeter, with and without a three-layer mask, while they went about their normal daily activities.

The average oxygen saturation was 96% before, during and after mask use. The authors concluded that, “wearing a three-layer, non-medical face mask was not associated with a decline in oxygen saturation in older patients.”

Intestinal complaints

COVID-19 usually looks like an upper respiratory infection with a cough and fever, but Canadian researchers who received 36 articles looking primarily for CAT scan and ultrasound findings with COVID-19 uncovered something else: common intestinal complaints.

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The paper was published in the journal Abdominal Radiology. It found 18% of COVID-19 patients presented with gastrointestinal symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Further, the review found 16% of COVID-19 patients only had intestinal symptoms.

COVID-19 timeline

A new study published in the journal Nature used more than 10,000 plasma samples collected in New York City between February and July.

Researchers said based on the presence of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it was spreading and circulating as early as mid-February -- well before the first documented case on March 1.

The researchers in that study also determined that by July, roughly 20% of all New Yorkers had antibodies to the virus, which is much higher than other regions, such as Detroit, where an earlier study found only about 7% of front line workers in the area had antibodies.


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