St. Tammany Coroner to explain when wearing a mask can be unsafe

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NEW ORLEANS – Temperatures over 100 degrees can make it difficult to breathe under normal conditions. With a mask, it could be even worse. 

Wearing a mask in public places in Louisiana is now a law if you’re eight years old or older. However, with much of the state experiencing excessive heat warnings along with more heat advisories this week, St. Tammany Coroner Charles Preston says, there may be exceptions to wearing a mask.  

“If they’re beginning to have symptoms of dehydration and dizziness and difficulty breathing and they feel like the mask is impeding their ability to breathe then they should remove their mask,” Preston explained.

Preston also says, taking off your mask should be the last resort and if you have to remove it, you should go to a private space immediately.

“The population that is getting to that- that’s probably the population that shouldn’t be in public in the first place,” Preston said.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith says, “individuals can be cited for not complying with a business owner’s request to wear a mask.” However, “complaints will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Prestons tells WGNO, taking at least a couple of breaks from the heat every three hours can help avoid overheating. 

One safe spot to recharge? Your car.

“Turn on the air conditioning,” said Preston. “Remove their mask so they don’t feel like they’re having trouble breathing and get their core body temperature down.”

While Preston acknowledges heat waves are lethal, he still urges everyone to mask up if possible.

“In very, very, very, very, very few exceptions will people need to remove their masks but if they do, they have to be cognizant that COVID-19 is still there and that’s why it’s important that they move to a private space,” Preston noted. 

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