Masks have become a flashpoint amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here's what science says about them:
Masks have been a continual source of debate amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here is what the science says about them.
Early in theCOVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government officials discouraged Americans from wearing masks, saying they were unlikely to help stop the spread of the virus, according to the best evidence at the time.
But as evidence accumulated, the CDC made an abrupt about-face on April 3, encouraging all Americans to don face coverings to slow transmission of the virus, which was largely believed to be spread through respiratory droplets.Meanwhile, across the world, scientists were frantically marshaling resources to set up a wide range of studies to examine the issue. Some set up dummies in their laboratories, mimicking coughing or sneezing using spray canisters and capturing the distance these droplets were able to fly.
MORE: 'Incomprehensible': Confrontations over masks erupt amid COVID-19 crisisVice President Pence removes his mask as he arrives at the podium to speak to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at their headquarters in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020.
Vice President Pence removes his mask as he arrives at the podium to speak to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at their headquarters in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020.Jacquelyn Martin/APOthers embarked on massive population-scale studies, trying desperately to discern whether masking policies were likely to stop the spread of the virus within communities.
By June, the World Health Organization (WHO) weighed in, agreeing with the CDC that people should wear masks -- especially when other preventative measures, like standing 6 feet away from other people -- are not possible.Now, more than six months into this global pandemic, experts say enough evidence has been amassed to conclude that masks are critical in mitigating COVID-19 spread.
“It is a simple, inexpensive measure that can have a significant impact in reducing the spread of the virus, ” said Dr. Simone Wildes, an infectious disease physician at South Shore Health in Massachusetts. “We have to remember if we don't take these measures there will be more cases and more deaths.”
But what kind of mask is best? Experts agree that most people should not be using N-95 masks, which protect both the wearer and others from viral particles, are still in short supply and should be reserved for medical professionals. And they acknowledge that masks are not the only solution. Staying at least 6 feet away from other people when possible and washing your hands frequently are other important ways of stopping the spread of COVID-19, they said.
“The masks are not a cure for COVID-19,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It is a simple intervention that can be used to slow the spread of the coronavirus.MORE: Mixed messages on masks from leaders during pandemic has caused confusion for many
Why masks probably help othersAccumulating scientific evidence points to two potential benefits of wearing a mask or homemade face covering. First, it might prevent you from spreading respiratory droplets to others if you are the one who is infected. Second, it might prevent some of the viral particles from getting into your mouth and nose -- a point that has been much murkier from scientists and public health officials.
This first potential benefit has become impossible to ignore as we have come to understand the phenomenon of “silent spreaders,” with some studies estimating that more than 40% of people may be carriers of the virus without knowing it or feeling any symptoms, according to a review published in Annals of Internal Medicine this June.
“There are many people that are out there that have mild symptoms that may not even know they are infected that may be spreading the virus. A facial covering can help prevent that from happening,” said Wildes.The CDC has weighed in on this topic, saying that existing science supports the idea that masks can help protect the people around you, should you be infected. Right now, the agency stops short of saying that the mask itself can definitely protect you from getting infected, although research is ongoing.
Most of the good data we have on masks has looked at their effectiveness in health care settings, like hospitals and clinics. One of the strongest studies comes from the scientific journal The Lancet this June, which compiled multiple studies from both healthcare and community settings to find that wearing a mask may bring the risk of transmission of coronaviruses from 17% to 3%.
A study in Nature Medicine in April showed that masks reduce the amount of seasonal coronavirus as well as other respiratory viral particles in droplets or aerosols from exhaled breaths, however it did not study patients with COVID-19 directly. Another study in the Journal of Health Affairs in June, found that infection was 2% lower in places where mask mandates were enforced, though other factors could have contributed to this difference.
And multiple studies have found that the thicker the mask, the better. A thin, loose-fitting mask is less likely to protect the people around you compared to a multilayer mask (ideally 12-16 layers) that covers your nose and your mouth.MORE: Officials see pushback as more states, counties require people to wear masks in public
A shopper wearing a face mask walks through the Mall of America on June 16, 2020 in Bloomington, Minn.A shopper wearing a face mask walks through the Mall of America on June 16, 2020 in Bloomington, Minn.Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty ImagesAnd why they may help you
While less conclusive, growing evidence suggests masks might also protect you, the wearer. This theory relies on the idea that while a mask might not protect you from inhaling small particles of virus through the gaps in the mask, it is likely to prevent you from inhaling massive quantities of viral particles, compared to if you were wearing no mask at all.
“Though not conferring absolute protection, wearing a mask is does provide the wearer some level of protection which should provide reinforcement for those that aren’t willing to take an altruistic public health approach” said John Brownstein, a Harvard Medical School professor and ABC News contributor.
And experts think that inhaling a little bit of virus is better than inhaling a lot of virus, because a lower viral load could mean you’re less likely to get seriously sick.“This theory is really based on evidence that we have from almost every virus, whether it’s spread in a respirator way, gastrointestinally, sexually, that if you get a large innocuous of virus, you get more ill,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, director of UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).
“If you get less of a dose, you get less sick. And if you use masks you get less of a dose,” Gandhi said. “I really do believe that population masking will lead to more mild disease. It’s the biggest argument to [wear a] mask.”Even as evidence supporting mask use continues to accumulate, many Americans have become weary of wearing them as the pandemic drags on. Others remain skeptical of mask policies because of the government’s early messaging that masks wouldn’t help.
“We have to be humble about our assumptions,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, during an online Q&A on Monday. “It’s not that we were wrong and then we changed our mind, it’s that we keep learning.”Existing scientific data tells us it’s likely masks could save lives. And doctors say at the very least, they don’t hurt.
“I can understand the frustration some individuals are experiencing about the need to wear the mask at all times,” said Wildes. “But in the midst of a pandemic with more than 2.5 million cases in the US and more than 127,000 deaths with no cure or vaccine yet, we have to take all measures we can to slow the spread of the virus.”Read more: ABC News »
So basically.... they have no idea I frequently wonder how often people WASH their face cloth. I have seen some that are visibly filthy, even from 6ft away 🤮 🧫 Fake fake news Develop a mask that will stop COVID-19 VIRUS [ 0.01] Keep us all safe. I don't kneel at your twisted data ...independence means Americans chose our own risks
There it is Mr. Trump it’s so shinny. Would you betray your country for Gold. Yes, yes you would. I hate wearing masks. But I certainly am not paying a fine for not wearing. That’s the only reason I wear them when needed. Masks or face coverings? Science: WEAR THEM. It would be highly unscientific to rely on an ABC News article to determine what science has to say. About anything.
They’ve become a liberal weapon. They wear them all the time in Japan out of courteousness. If someone has a cough or cold they graciously wear a mask so as to not infect others around them....it’s that’s simple....being courteous 🤷🏻♀️. There was so much science in that article! The last couple of paragraphs were full of science! Finding out places that have mask mandates reduce the spread by almost 2 percent! 2 percent! We don’t know which places they compared, but I believe ABC. I’m doubling up my mask now.
Here's what you need to protect yourself from dangerous viruses...... You decide for yourself....... If Mask worked we would've never shut down and would've just worn mask ! Follow JoJo sheeple And when you wear a mask, don't wear one with vents like this! these will allow you to spray a virus on everybody worse than no mask at all because others might think they're safe
🤔 well in early March the experts said masks worn by the general public in everyday activities were basically worthless.... Same experts also said the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was worthless. And look where we are today.. unlawful not political is this issue. It's been tyrannical abuse of power and violation of countless civil and social rights of Americans. That's what is charged. Enough is enough! You wear yours you don't need others wearing there's to protect you.
Legal not political anytime you violate individual privacy you violate constitutional law! Every Dr including Dr fauci and Surgeon gen said mask didn't stop spread mutlpie times three decades . Please stop pushing the masks. Every social media post is about wearing a mask. We get it that you all are obsessed.
“Science!” A COVID virus is .1 micron. An n95 mask will filter 95% of particles larger than .3 microns. A HQ cloth mask might filter particles between 1 and 20 microns. Do you build a chain link fence to keep out mosquitoes? If masks are effective then why are they letting prisoners out due to Covid concerns instead of just giving them masks? 🤔
Before you give ADVICE, please check with the WHO for THEIR latest Guidelines! NEW= 3' not 6' Distancing & NO Masks 4 Exercising or Sweating. Children are having severe side effects from wearing masks! They're suffocating! CDCgov CDCDirector VP POTUSPress 'science' that changes it's mind to conveniently fit the going narrative is NOT science.
DON'T BE SELFISH! Anyone worried about covid should STAY HOME! Masks and social distancing are killing the economy, forcing businesses into bankruptcy and driving people to the point of suicide. Don't require others wear mask, just stay home. Don't be selfish, STAY HOME! They dont care about us. They did the math and are fine with us getting covid19 as long as they keep making money. The only bailouts are for the rich, who we let keep billions for what?!?!
If masks work then nothing should be shut down. Science says masks are useless against coronavirus and they are harmful for you! Show those articles written by Ph.D virologists and scientists. You have more chance of dying by wearing a mask in hot weather than due to coronavirus! Write the truth! masksareuseless
What don’t people stop complaining about the masks. Get creative have fun and make some kick ass masks. WearADamnMask The COVIDIDIOTS don’t care because ‘Merica! Here’s what world reknown Fauci thinks of makes
Trump should tell people to wear coronavirus masks, ex-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney saysPresident Donald Trump would not be hurt politically, Mulvaney, now a special envoy to Northern Ireland, told CNBC on Wednesday. that's rich. Someone who spent a full year gaslighting the American public on behalf of Trump now wants us to know he believes in science? OhNoTrumpGottaGo Masks, gloves don’t stop COVID-19 spread - Experts
Republicans distance themselves from Trump on masks.JonLemire discusses how some Republicans are 'distancing' themselves from Pres. Trump by 'endorsing' the use of masks. 'Donald Trump is sort of almost alone on this, on an island, in terms of refusing to wear a mask in public.' JonLemire No mask either, ever [unless I don this one to trigger the sheeple and/or quislings who have swallowed the Kool-Aid of your 24/7 four-year anti-Trump propaganda]! ¡Viva Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness! JonLemire Dictator Trump is out in the ozone floating around....STAY THERE TRUMP....we don't want you here for sure. JonLemire It's to late to tell 129K people they died for a damm political stand because Republicans would not endorse face masks.
Savannah requires face masks as coronavirus cases 'explode'A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 509,000 people worldwide. Over 10.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins
Airline industry flails without federal requirements for masks, social distancingThe FDA on Tuesday released final guidance laying out its standards for approving coronavirus vaccines, requiring that any vaccine candidate be at least 50 percent more effective than a placebo What else can King Trump mandate? Freedom of speech on social media? Kneeling at sporting events not allowed? Gee, it’s not as though a free for all will result in chaos causing an outbreak. Let’s just abolish all rules and regs ,use your own judgement - which assumes you have any. I always hated the idea of my dog having to get rabies shots, s/b my judgement, right? The WHOLE COUNTRY is a mixed message. It starts with Trump NOT Leading , not wearing a Mask, Not being Prepared in a Pandemic, Cutting the Funding for the CDC, Etc,Etc, Etc, Etc, etc......
Savannah requires face masks as coronavirus cases 'explode'Residents dine at a 500-metre-long table spanning across the length of the medieval Charles Bridge as restrictions ease following the COVID-19 outbreak. Why there aren't any barriers that cover people's faces? Wtf , they are too close Whit deaths, come new jobs openings
Trump refuses to lead as pandemic worsens and allies desert him on masksMost Presidents would try to stop the United States from barreling toward disaster. But Donald Trump has nothing to say and no answers to mitigate a calamity unfolding on his watch that he seems resolved to ignore | Analysis by StCollinson StCollinson How funny that the Americans are having to plead with the Taliban not to kill their troops! The Taliban must be savouring the moment: the US has admitted defeat, and the Taliban has won! StCollinson The Apprentice😂😂 StCollinson I simply think he’s trying to be number 1 at anything. Since he don’t have the capability to do anything good, I think his goal is to see if he can be the first president with single digit approval ratings. He will count that as a win