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Debunking COVID-19 myths in Hampton Roads school board meetings

Sixty-seven people spoke during the Virginia Beach school board meeting and 54 did the same in Chesapeake. However, some of them were citing misinformation.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Early Wednesday morning, the Virginia Beach School Board voted to require masks for the upcoming school year.

On Monday, Chesapeake decided to make masks optional.

Sixty-seven passionate speakers lined up to speak their minds in Virginia Beach, while 54 did the same in Chesapeake. 

However, some cited misinformation.

RELATED: Masks to be required in Virginia Beach public schools

RELATED: Chesapeake Public Schools to stick with original mask plan, keeping masks optional

THE MYTH:

"There is not a single conclusive study proving masking stops or slows transmission," said one speaker in Virginia Beach.

THE FACTS:

That’s not true.

According to a study by the World Health Organization, face masks reduced the chances of infection by more than 80 percent.

With face masks, the chance of infection was 3.1 percent compared with 17.4 percent without a mask.

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19

THE MYTH:

In Chesapeake, one mother claimed the CO2 levels from wearing a mask are dangerous.

"Increased CO2 intake can cause many things including but not limited to difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and death."

THE FACTS:

First off, it is true CO2 can be dangerous, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture says only at very high levels.

The CDC has said CO2 can build up in some medical masks, but not to any dangerous levels. 

They say cloth and surgical masks fit loosely enough across the face to let CO2 out. The molecules are small enough to easily pass through the material,  while COVID-19 respiratory droplets are much larger.

RELATED: VERIFY: Face mask facts vs. falsehoods

THE MYTH:

"I come to you tonight to talk about something that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year," said one Chesapeake man. "But we never mask up for it. The flu."

THE FACTS:

Many people have compared COVID-19 to the flu.

619,000 Americans have died so far from COVID-19. By comparison, the CDC estimates there are 12,000 to 61,000 flu-related deaths each year.

Not to mention COVID-19 symptoms can be far more serious and persist for months.

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 has killed more Americans in 8 months than the flu in 5 years

THE MYTH:

"Now let’s look at the risks: developmental delays in learning, speech issues," said one Virginia Beach woman.

"The sudden inability to understand facial expressions because they are hidden," said another.

THE FACTS:

The American Academy of Pediatrics says there is no evidence that the use of face masks prevents or delays speech and language development.

In fact, a 2012 study in the scientific journal Cognition says when children three to eight years old viewed faces covered with masks, they didn’t show any problems classifying expressions.

This suggested that children under nine preferred studying the eyes area even when they could see full faces, the researchers wrote.

So far, York and Chesapeake are the only two schools in our area to make masks optional.

Suffolk and Norfolk have meetings in the next week to make their decisions.

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