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UNMC doc says masks are safe for kids, misinformation continues to be an issue

Posted at 7:16 AM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 08:18:44-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — For months, Governor Pete Ricketts has said his main issue with mask mandates is that they take away a parent's choice

“If a parent wants to mask up their child, that should be their choice to be able to make," Ricketts said again in a press conference on Wednesday.

But now he’s posing a new concern for parents. It's no longer just ‘Should masks be required in your child’s school?,' but ‘Is it even safe to put a mask on your child?'

“So I want to be clear, there are no studies, at least that I’m aware of, that specifically define the harm for kids wearing masks," Ricketts said. "These are just some of the concerns that doctors have.”

Like Ricketts said, this concern is not based on studies, but on some anecdotal theories published in the New York Magazine.

He goes on to reference a decision by the Norwegian Public Institute of Health to recommend against masks in schools, recommendations made a year ago.

Here in Omaha, doctors say masks are safe for kids and point to the evidence they've been collecting.

In fact, they say it's the safest thing you can do for our kids right now.

“Wearing face masks, first of all, is not detrimental to your health," Lawler said. "And for children especially, it is incredibly effective at reducing transmission.”

Ricketts also continues to assert that COVID-19 is no more dangerous than the flu for children, but Lawler says they’ve seen serious long-term respiratory side effects in children months after they’ve contracted the virus.

“The impact of COVID-19 is not minimal," Lawler said. "It is not what we experience with seasonal flu, it's much greater.”

Nearly 18 months into the pandemic, Lawler says misinformation is still a battle they're fighting right alongside the virus.

"It’s been a battle against misinformation more than anything else since the beginning of this pandemic, and we’re still trying to get accurate information and facts out there so people understand what the evidence says.”

Lawler encourages parents on the fence about masking to look to the medical and educational institutes studying this virus and the effects of masking.

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