An exclusive report found that people who did not wear masks or socially distance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were more than twice as likely to become infected with the virus. According to the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, just 11% of the respondents who said they wore masks outside their homes tested positive for COVID-19 compared to 23% who said they never wore masks.
According to Axios, the poll that began in March 2020 also found that people who wore masks regularly got tested more often than those who didn’t. In fact, 30% of mask-wearers said they got tested for COVID-19, compared to 23% of those who occasionally wore masks, and only 12% of those who did not wear face coverings at all. That means that the actual percentage of people who became infected with COVID-19 and did not wear masks could be even higher.
The Axios-Ipsos poll found similar results among those who observed the six-foot social distancing recommendation issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just 10% of those compliant with the guideline tested positive for COVID-19 versus 26% of people who said they never did. However, the poll found less variation among testing rates for this group.
According to Axios, 26% of people who consistently kept their distance from others got tested for COVID-19 compared to 27% who sometimes followed that rule, 28% who did so rarely or occasionally, and 23% who said they never did.
Americans who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask outdoors or when they are with people in their own household, according to new guidance by the CDC. While the agency advises that vaccinated people still take precautions in some indoor settings, some Americans continue to also wear their face coverings outdoors to protect themselves and others.
According to CNN, while many states have lifted their mask mandates, private businesses can still insist that customers wear face coverings. Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine have not changed their mask safety guidelines. Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Health System, explains that “although being full vaccinated greatly reduces your chance of catching or spreading the virus, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely.”
Maragakis adds that masks help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that are released into the air by speaking, singing, coughing, or sneezing.
“Masks are still a good idea in crowded indoor public places that contain a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” she says, adding that Johns Hopkins Medicine, as well as other healthcare facilities where people have risk factors for severe COVID-19, continue to require face coverings.
“These include people over the age of 65 and those living with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, immunity problems or cancer,” she says.
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