The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on mask-wearing this week, confirming that not only do face coverings protect those around us from respiratory droplets, but also the wearer themselves.
In a scientific briefing released Tuesday, the CDC reiterated its notion that masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus, adding that this is particularly crucial among “asymptomatic or pre-ymptomatic infected wearers who are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions.”
The guidance comes as cases around the globe continue to skyrocket, with new U.S. cases topping 150,000 on Thursday.
In the last 7 days, one in 378 people in the US have tested positive for COVID-19. If there’s ever been a moment to consider scaling back your holiday plans – it’s now. https://t.co/wwF9aKsOuT
— Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS (@jessicamalaty) November 12, 2020
Epidemiologists and other officials commended the agency’s update, as it affirms what many have believed all along: that masks offer more than one benefit in slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings,” it said.
The agency also offered an economic argument, saying that increasing the proportion of people who wear masks by 15 percent could prevent the need for lockdowns and cut associated losses of up to $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product.
The updated guidance also gave insight to which masks are the most effective, with multi-layer cloth masks providing the most protection.
The new document included observational studies which supported this new (but not really new) evidence that masks provide protection.
One example looked at two masked hair stylists who had been experiencing symptoms but did not transmit the virus to any of their 67 masked clients who were later contacted. The document also referred to a study of 124 Beijing households in which mask use significantly cut transmission of the virus, as well as an outbreak aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt in which face coverings appeared to have reduced risk of infection by 70 percent.
As coronavirus cases continue to surge worldwide, there is no doubt that wearing a mask and practicing social distancing is the absolute best way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.