What counts as a mask exemption?

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 8:08 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Nearly everyone is required to wear a mask in public under the current state mask mandate, but there are exemptions.

The state’s website says people who “cannot medically tolerate” a mask do not have to wear one, along with young children. Babies under 2 should not wear masks.

Relatively very few people have a medical condition where wearing a mask could be harmful, according to UCHealth’s Interim Medical Officer David Steinbruner. He says the most common reason for this he is familiar with is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“There are people who, when putting a mask on, it will trigger such a severe reaction to PTSD that they are going to be breathing so hard and fast anyway, that it defeats the purpose. The psychological effects of that will be detrimental to their health,” Steinbruner says.

He added, people who are quadriplegic could be inhibited by a mask because it would not allow them to use a mouth device to communicate or operate a wheelchair.

The emergency room doctor says people with the below respiratory conditions can and should wear masks that fit properly and are not too thick:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Distorder (COPD)
  • Lung disease
  • Those who wear supplemental oxygen

The CDC recommends reusable masks have 2 layers of cotton fabric.

King Soopers and Walmart both told KKTV that they will not require customers to provide documented proof of a mask exemption.

Steinbruner says it puts doctors in a dilemma if patients come in asking for a mask exemption when they may not truly need one. “If you really feel you have a medical exemption, be very thoughtful about asking for that. It’s one thing to say I’d rather not, but think about what you’re asking for is to try to essentially put other people at a little higher risk potentially because you choose to not wear a mask.”

Copyright 2020 KKTV. All rights reserved.

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