Garcetti controversy: Medical experts say keep your mask on, holding your breath doesn't help

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Friday, February 4, 2022
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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says he was holding his breath when he took pictures without his mask at SoFi Stadium. But what do medical experts think of his explanation?

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti defended himself for his maskless photo with Magic Johnson at last Sunday's Rams-49ers game by saying he was holding his breath while taking the picture.

"I wore my mask the entire game. When people ask for a photograph, I hold my breath and I put it here and people can see that," Garcetti said holding his mask in his hand. "There is a 0% chance of infection from that."

Medical experts, however, say the messaging is clear: it's best to wear your mask.

"I think unfortunately at this point since we're still dealing with the winter surge, I think it's important - especially for our elected officials, for celebrities on TV - to do the proper thing and that's to keep your masks on," said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, a pulmonologist and director of intensive care at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center.

A 2020 MIT Medical answer on holding one's breath to prevent COVID-19 spread said that "in all likelihood, it's not at all helpful."

Yadegar added the messaging around masks should be "consistent, coherent...honest."

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger says the images of leaders without their masks are causing confusion, saying "clarity and consistency are a must."

Earlier this week, she sent a letter to county health officials asking them to take another look at the outdoor mask mandates, and bring them in line with the state. Currently, only L.A. County has different rules.

"There was a time during COVID that we did that we did push the Department of Public Health to align with the state, and we did that, in part, because we felt it would create a more clear understanding and less confusion," she added.