Confused about masks? Here’s what scientists know
WAHIGTON, Nov 19: With the coronavirus on the march through much of the United States, scientists are urging Americans to adopt the few health measures shown to slow the virus: universal mask use, social distancing, good ventilation indoors and hand hygiene.
Mask-wearing has become a particularly divisive - and partisan - issue over the past few months. Still, faced with a surge in cases, 40 states, including recent holdouts like Iowa and North Dakota, now have put mask requirements in place.
Among public health experts, there is near-unanimous endorsement of universal mask mandates to shield people from the virus and slow the pandemic.
"The more people who wear a mask, the more the community is protected and therefore the more you individually benefit," said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 response program. "It's like a herd effect."
Brooks is the architect of a recent agency bulletin saying that masks benefit wearers, not just those around them. Increasing the proportion of people who wear masks by 15% could prevent the need for lockdowns and cut economic losses that may reach $1 trillion, about 5% of gross domestic product, the CDC said.
"If it can't help us avert the shutdowns that are happening, it can certainly help us come down the backside of this peak and then keep things down," Brooks said.
Other experts were careful to note that masks cannot work in isolation. "Controlling community spread of COVID-19 and protecting individuals requires a multitiered approach," said John Volckens, a public health engineer at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. -New York Times