Heat wave may make mask-wearing a little tougher for some, doctor says

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Breathing may be a little tougher for some due to the combination of an air quality alert and Gov. Gina Raimondo’s mask-wearing mandate.

The temperature Monday reached 90 degrees, making it the first official heatwave of the summer.

In Southern New England, wearing face coverings while in public has been mandatory for nearly three months. But with the onset of the oppressive heat and humidity, this is the first time many have had to think twice about it.

“It makes breathing difficult and I also sweat a little bit more,” Providence resident Marcin Krolikowski said. “I know wearing a mask is very, very important, but it has been a challenge, especially in the last couple of days.”

Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer with the American Lung Association, tells Eyewitness News that breathing is always tougher during an air quality alert, and the masks are only intensifying the problem.

“High o-zone and high particular matter we know can lead to exacerbations of asthma and COPD,” Rizzo said. “If you now add to that the fact that you need to wear a mask while doing activities, that should even make you more cautious about even thinking about going out and if you have to, once again, early in the day and for a limited amount of time.”

On Sunday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh posted to Twitter telling everyone that it is okay to take off their mask in public if breathing is compromised, as long as they were at least 6 feet away from those around them.

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