Based on our experience with prior outbreaks of infectious diseases, we know that clear, coherent messages about what people can do to protect their community and themselves are critical. By that rate, the messaging on the mask has been confusing.
Early in the pandemic, people were told not to wear a mask. This was driven by the general belief that surgical masks (also called medical masks) are not enough to protect the user from all the respiratory pathogens, as well as the concern about diverting reduced supplies from healthcare locations.
Nevertheless, science, the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, has inevitably changed the way we see things. Thanks to scientists’ diligent efforts everywhere, we have condensed years of research on the COVID-10 virus into months. This led to a rapid evolution of recommendations and policies, and here are some of the things we’ve learned so far:
#1 Many people with COVID-19 are unaware they are carrying the virus.
Studies have shown that 40% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic but potentially able to transmit the virus to others. In the absence of widespread screening tests, medical staff has no way of identifying those who are silently spreading the virus in their community.
That is why wearing a mask, even if you’re completely healthy, is recommended both by the World Health Organization and CDC. It’s one way to help prevent unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.
The surgical mask, cloth, and even cotton face mask with string ties can reduce viral transmission by 70% if worn over the nose and mouth. Virologists emphasize the importance of not only wearing a mask but wearing it correctly.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), that means washing both hands before putting on the mask and making sure it covers your mouth and nose once in place. It should fit tightly against your face and remain there until you leave a public space as well.
# 3 Masks may help the economy recover.
A report released by Goldman Sachs found that wearing masks could serve as a substitute for lockdowns.
Recent spikes in COVID-20 cases caused some U.S communities to hold or roll back reopening schedules and “have raised concerns about a new lockdown as one we say back in March and April,” which is very economically damaging.
At the start of the outbreak, the lockdowns we faced got the U.S economy to cease, with more than 44 million citizens asking for unemployment benefits since mid-March. However, the widespread use of masks could considerably reduce the growth rate of viruses instances, which renowned disease expert Anthony Fauci, M.D., said could hit 100,000 daily outbreaks if not regulated. Not only that but reducing the rate of new cases would reduce the need for what would otherwise be a significant hit to the economy.
The information in this article is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding the pandemic continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data have changed since publication. Meanwhile, we encourage readers to stay informed on news regarding COVID-19.