Lutz: If you cite a medical reason for not wearing a face mask, you should stay home

Dr Bob Lutz

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz on Wednesday echoed what other medical professionals have said about masks in recent days: they do not limit the amount of oxygen or carbon dioxide flow.

Many people have cited other health conditions as a reason for not wearing a mask, but Lutz argued that that is a signal for taking even more precautions against COVID-19.

“If someone has a medical excuse or medical reason for [not] wearing a face covering, they are a high-risk potentially. Should they be out socializing and doing business when we have as much community spread as we have right now?” Lutz said.

Governor Jay Inslee’s order does, however, include a list of people who may be exempt from wearing a face covering, including children younger than five, people with medical conditions that prevent wearing a face covering and those who may be unable to remove a face covering without assistance.


Lutz said he has heard about people reaching out to their physicians and asking for an exemption — something he called “an out.”

“I really hate the fact that they’re asking physicians to provide them an exemption for doing something which has common good,” Lutz said.

Washington state’s mask mandate has been in effect for several days and the Spokane Regional Health District has been monitoring mask-wearing since.

Over the holiday weekend, SRHD did an observation study. Volunteers spread out across the county and were instructed to look at 25 people, then count how many were wearing masks.

More than 750 observations were counted and 65 percent of people were wearing face masks, according to the study.

Lutz said 65 percent is good, but added that the county will need to see a higher percentage to actually impact the curve, especially with back-to-school season and flu season approaching.

“The options are not many. We can go back to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ and essentially, everyone is hunkered down at home. Or we can open up and continue to require people to wash their hands and socially distance. Now, requiring people to wear face coverings,” Lutz said.’

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