Coronavirus confusion: WHO says people don’t need masks, CDC says you do


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – To mask or not to mask? That is, indeed, the question everyone is asking. Turns out, there are two very different schools of thought on the matter as debates continues on just how effective they are.

The World Health Organization says people do not need to wear them, while the Centers for Disease Control recommend citizens wear them when out in public. In fact, starting at 11:59 pm Wednesday night, the city of Miami is making it mandatory for people to wear them when in public, including customers in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and restaurants.

The order also applies to food delivery employees and construction workers on job sites. Miami is not alone in the mask measure, joining a number of South Florida cities currently implementing similar orders this week.

So, what is the real deal on the mask issue?

Longtime infectious diseases expert Dr. John Greene from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa agrees with the CDC and says, it’s simple. When you’re in public, you should wear a mask to protect yourself and lower your risk of contracting the virus.

“By and large, the spread is through the air, so a mask could be protective in that regard,” said Dr. Greene, speaking from his office at Moffitt. “They do work.”

Dr. Greene has been practicing medicine for more than three decades and says he’s never seen anything quite like this.

“It’s like the Twilight Zone,” he told 8 on Your Side. “My colleagues in infection control describe it like the Twilight Zone. All the rules have changed, and it feels like the Wild West where we’re making up the rules on a weekly basis.”

Greene admits the guidelines have been confusing at times as the medical world continues to work through this highly unusual, constantly changing global pandemic.

“When you look at the debate of the mask, it has changed over the last two months from you don’t need a mask, now you do need a mask,” he said.

There’s no doubt, you see them everywhere these days. As people are wearing masks, and for good reason as doctors maintain they do work when keeping citizens safe in the Coronavirus battle.

Just ask South Tampa mom, Solveig Ruppel.

She and her daughter, Jane, were both wearing them Wednesday afternoon during a shopping trip to Publix. “Anything is better than nothing for me,” Solveig told 8 on your Side. “We are doing what we can to protect ourselves.”

Dr. Ruppel is a dentist and tells 8 on your side, wearing a mask is nothing new for her as she has always worn them for work treating her patients at her South Tampa practice. She told us she agrees wholeheartedly with the CDC on the issue.

“You just hope people would wear them,” she said.

The question remains as to whether or not the city of Tampa will follow in the footsteps of Miami and other South Florida municipalities.

8 On Your Side reached out to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on the issue. She released the following statement regarding masks:

“Safety is our biggest priority right now. As a city, we are following CDC guidelines when it comes to masks, working around the clock to ensure all first responders and essential employees have that equipment. We also encourage everyone to continue social distancing during this pandemic.”

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor


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