The information about face masks will be used as people want to use it. Various media outlets this week are headlining a September report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicating that face masks are not effective in preventing a person from contracting the coronavirus.
The study, conducted in the United States in July, compared 154 “case-patients” who tested positive for COVID-19 to a control group of 160 participants from the same health care facility who were symptomatic but tested negative. More than 70% of the case-patients were contaminated with the virus and fell ill despite “always” wearing a mask.
“Characterization of community exposures can be difficult to assess when widespread transmission is occurring, especially from asymptomatic persons within inherently interconnected communities,” the report states.
In fact, the report states that “direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.”
Despite the new information, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks.
We join them in doing so.
Face masks are primarily designed to protect others from you. Wearing the mask may be little protection from you contracting the virus from someone not wearing a mask, but it can prevent you from spreading the coronavirus to others.
And other studies indicate masks are effective in that regard.
One from the Journal of the American Medical Association shows adherence to universal masking policies reduced COVID-19 transmission within a Boston hospital system, and one from CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that wearing a mask prevented the spread of infection from two hair stylists to their customers in Missouri.
Wearing a face mask in settings where you are around other people makes as much sense as social distancing, washing hands and other aspects of the coronavirus safety protocol. Everything that can be done to prevent the spread of the virus should be done.
The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings. Doing so is as much about respect for the safety of others as it is any law mandating masks or even an effort to protect yourself.