Why You Should Wear a Face Mask — Now More Than Ever
Although lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures have been lifted throughout much of the United States, the threat posed by COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. In fact, in many parts of the country, it is getting worse. So, why you should wear a face mask? Masks are known to prevent the transmission of infectious coronavirus.
Over the last week, we have seen several states continue to set new records for the number of new cases reported within 24 hours. Even though the increased case numbers can be partly attributed to more widespread testing, this doesn’t narrate the whole story. For instance, Arizona has seen the percentage of positive COVID-19 test results more than double, while hospital capacity has amplified at an alarming rate.
What can you do as we try to balance going back to work and running errands with an ever-increasing outbreak? It probably should not come as too big of a surprise that most health experts recommend that we continue the same practices from when the pandemic began: social distancing whenever possible, washing hands often, and wearing masks.
From the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding face masks, their effectiveness, and why we should wear them. It is essential to keep in mind that while there is still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus; we know a lot more now than we did several months ago. This is especially true in regards to masks.
As Larry Chu, MD, explained in a recent interview with the Stanford Medicine News Center, “We have learned that as many as 40 percent of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 may have no symptoms. However, when they talk, cough, or sneeze, they can still spread the virus to others in the form of respiratory droplets expelled into the air. Those droplets evaporate into fine particles that may linger. The mask traps these larger droplets before they can evaporate. Therefore, wearing a mask regularly can prevent spreading at the source even when we do not know we are sick.
A big reason for wearing a face mask is that many droplets from our normal breathing will be trapped in place, instead of circulating through the surrounding air. In the same interview, Dr. Amy Price noted that wearing a mask can reduce the distance viral particles travel from 30 feet to 5 feet.
Regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, when you wear a mask, you make it much less likely that you will spread COVID-19 to others.