Wearing a face mask not only protects others from your respiratory droplets that may contain the coronavirus, but it also protects the wearer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday updated its guidance on face masks, saying that face coverings with several layers of protection offer the most security against COVID-19 for both parties. This is an about turn on the agency’s previous stance that masks “may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”
The new guidelines state:
“Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns,” wrote the CDC. “Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts, in some cases filtering nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron.”
The CDC said, according to Fox News, that wearing a mask is important because it is estimated that more than half of transmissions stem from asymptomatic people. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). issued a statement saying that scientific research supports the use of masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
According to The Boston Globe, Dr. Atul Grover, executive director of the AAMC Research and Action Institute, said: “Until we develop a vaccine and better therapeutics, prevention is the key to reducing the impact of this pandemic. The quicker we make face coverings our ‘new normal,’ the faster we gain control over COVID-19.”
The association recommends that everyone two years of age and older wear face coverings while indoors, especially when they are around people who do not live in their household. It is especially important to wear a face mask on an elevator, in a bus, train, or plane, or in restaurants.
“All businesses open to the public, no matter how limited, should insist that all customers wear masks while indoors,” said the statement. The AAMC suggested that we wear face covering outdoors when we expect to be around others, “even when briefly passing by others such as running or walking by someone on a sidewalk.”
Researchers at Duke University tested 14 commonly available masks by using a simple setup procedure that recorded that number of droplets emitted when a person speaks. They found that the best protection was offered by the N95 masks without a valve, followed by three-layered surgical masks, and the DIY cotton masks people are making. They said a good quality mask can stop 99% of virus-laded droplets from being transmitted into the air.
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