State health officials ‘concerned’ by people not covering noses with masks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State health officials have a warning about people masking up only partway. They say too many people are exposing the organ that is most likely to get infected: the nose.

“When I see people wearing their masks like this, it concerns me a lot. It really does need to be up over your nose,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.

The feeling is echoed unanimously by people along Mass Ave like Cassandra Vargas.

“All the time, yeah, all the time,” she said.

“Oh yeah, all the time,” adds David Bell.

Both said they’ve seen too many noses visible when they should be hidden by a mask.

Though to be clear, no mask is needed at all when outdoors and socially distant. Still, indoors, it can be a different story and covering a mouth but not a nose seems far too common.

For ICU nurse Ellie Szucs and her husband Michael, they agree they each have to tell people to properly mask themselves dozens of times a day.

“50,” Ellie said with a laugh.

“It’s the same in retail,” Michael said.

“A lot,” Ellie chimes in.

Ellie said it’s always visitors and family members in the hospital who need to be reminded. Not everybody takes it well.

“I get some pushback sometimes,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t take it seriously. There might be people who don’t understand. It never hurts to re-educate people.”

There’s good reason to.

Dr. Box said covering your mouth is only part of the mask mandate.

“I know that the nose is the most likely area for an individual to get infected,” she said Wednesday during the weekly coronavirus virtual press conference.

“It’s very important for us all to try to be on the safety side of this,” said Indianapolis resident Regina Anderson.

Still, she admits sometimes she lets her nose peek out in public places indoors. She said she has a disorder that can make it hard to breathe.

“I do it for a spare of a moment myself to get rid of the sweat, to get rid of me feeling like I can’t breathe,” Anderson said.

Those decisions don’t seem to be unnoticed by others.

“A little irritated, not going to lie,” Vargas said. “For them to have it below their nose is disrespectful for the people that are participating and wearing the mask above the nose.”

Despite the irritation and potential danger, people said if they’re off the clock, they’re leaving it alone.

“I keep my distance. I let it go because it’s on them,” Vargas said.

“Safety is important but I’m also the kind of person who minds my own business. So if I see that, I’m going to go over here,” Bell said, demonstrating as he walked away from the camera.

“At the end of the day, I can’t make someone wear their masks correctly,” Ellie Szucs said.

An important reminder is that masks are not recommended for children under the age of 2, people with trouble breathing and those who can’t take it off themselves.