Costco mask rules now apply to those with preexisting conditions


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Costco has been requiring customers to wear masks since early May, but now the rules also apply to those with preexisting conditions, who were previously exempt.

Starting Nov. 16, people over the age of two who were previously exempt from face masks due to a medical condition will be required to wear a face shield instead.

Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek sent a letter to customers, it read:

“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience.”

“Everyone should wear a face mask because it’s the intelligent, safe and prudent thing to do.  There should be no exceptions,” said Gustavo Caicedo, Wilmette, IL. Costco customer. “You’re protecting yourself and others.”

“I don’t think it’s debatable at this point,” said Brenan Corcoran, Chicago Costco customer.

On a crowded day at an Illinois Costco, while many customers said they felt safer having everyone covered with a mask or shield, some could see why those with pre-existing conditions like asthma or emphysema would ask to be exempt.

“That was my first time in a Costco in years, but I used to work in a really busy grocery store and we had to manage the inflow of people coming in with masks, and we actually wouldn’t allow them in if it was even slightly below the mouth or the nose,” said Sarelle Caicedo, Costco shopper. “The biggest concern of people, or complaint, rather, was oh my God I have asthma, I can’t breathe basically, so that was a big concern, is that they had preexisting health conditions, which makes it really tricky.”

“There is absolutely no doubt that wearing masks prevent the spread.  Every study that’s come out over the past nine months have confirmed that,” said Dr. Edward Ward, Vice-Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine at Rush University Medical Group.

Dr. Edward Ward treats COVID-19 patients in a busy emergency department and says wearing a mask, symptoms or not, is what will protect yourself and others.

“I’m sympathetic to the folks who have those underlying medical conditions, but the other thing that we’ve found is, they may be the people who are at risk for having the worst complications from this,” said Dr. Ward. “So I would say those folks more than anybody, really need to protect themselves, and that’s either by wearing a mask, or staying at home.”

A new study by UCLA investigating the effectiveness of face coverings, backs up that science.

The researchers found that even a simple cloth covering reduces the spread of respiratory droplets that carry the virus by as much as 77 percent. A face shield on its own reduced cough particles by 4 percent.

Face shields and masks worn together, reduced the spread by up to 89 percent, according the UCLA study.

“For folks that don’t have resources and have underlying conditions, they’ve got to get food, they’ve got to put gas in their tank. They’ve got to do the things that everyone else does,” said Ward. “If you really have some type of pulmonary condition, some type of lung condition that really makes it extremely difficult to wear a mask, then the face shield would be the next best thing, but I would say the real key here is limiting the exposure to the very minimal amount of trips you need to make and wearing the mask as best you can, to the extent that you can.”

The authors of the study called mask wearing a “no brainer,” and said stricter mitigation measures should be adopted for indoor environments, which are more likely to be enclosed and crowded.

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