Facial masks: why the orientation has changed so much and how wearing masks can protect the economy

The researchers say the reward would be enormous. If 95% of Americans wore face masks in public, it could prevent 33,000 deaths by Oct. 1, according to the University of Washington Institute for Health Assessment and Measurement.

So why has the orientation about face masks changed since the pandemic started? This new coronavirus is only a few months old and scientists are constantly learning more about it, including more reasons why wearing masks is so important:

– It is easy to spread this virus simply by speaking or breathing.
– This coronavirus is highly contagious. Without mitigation efforts such as orders to stay home, each person with the coronavirus infects, on average, two or three other people. That makes it twice as contagious as the flu.
– It is easy to spread the coronavirus without any symptoms, either from asymptomatic carriers or pre-symptomatic carriers.

– This virus has a long incubation period, up to 14 days, which provides ample opportunity for people to infect others before they realize they are infected.

– Carriers can be more contagious in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, making transmission even more blind.

In other words, not only people who are sneezing and coughing can transmit the coronavirus. People often look completely normal and do not have a fever. And that could include you.

Why did health officials tell us not to wear masks earlier?

At the beginning of this pandemic, scientists did not know how easily this virus spreads among people without symptoms or how long infectious particles can remain in the air.
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There was also a shortage of N95 respirators and face masks among healthcare workers who were quickly overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Some medical workers ended up using plastic covers for office reports or other ordinary items such as makeshift face masks, often of inferior quality, while working closely with Covid-19 patients.
In March, both the World Health Organization and the CDC said that healthy members of the general public should not wear face masks. instead It should be reserved for those who are sick or care for the sick.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams posted a tweet on February 29 urging people not to buy masks.
But in early April, both the CDC and Adams reversed their guidance after doctors learned more about how easily the coronavirus spreads without symptoms. They even created a video that shows how to make a mask with just a T-shirt and rubber bands, without the need to sew.
The WHO in June also reversed its guidance. The global health agency now says countries should urge the public to wear cloth masks where there is widespread transmission of the virus and where physical distancing is difficult.
Track the virus in your state and across the U.S.

What are the doctors saying about the masks now?

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“People need to know that wearing masks can reduce virus transmission by as much as 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends and their communities at risk,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute of Metrics and Health Assessment.
There are only a few groups of people who should not wear cloth masks, including children under the age of 2 and people who have respiratory problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is urging the public to wear face masks, especially now that states have reopened, more people are in public, and new Covid-19 hospitalizations are emerging in many areas.

“Plan A: Don’t go into the crowd. Plan B: If you do, be sure to wear a mask,” Fauci said Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

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But Fauci said he does not regret not telling Americans to wear masks at the start of the pandemic.

“At the time, there was a shortage of equipment that our healthcare providers needed, who put themselves in daily danger of caring for sick people,” he said.

“We did not want to divert masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) away from them, to be used by people.” But now, Fauci said, “we have enough.”

Which states have mask requirements?

At least 16 states and the District of Columbia are mandated to wear cloth face masks in public.
These states require people to wear masks when they are in public.

“It is an incredibly simple, inexpensive intervention that is now becoming an effective intervention for both individuals (and) communities,” said Murray.

“There is no reason why each state should not do what other states are beginning to do, which is the use of the command mask.”

Other countries have had mask requirements across the country, including Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria.

Do the mask requirements really help?

About 230,000 to 450,000 cases of Covid-19 were prevented in states that enacted requirements for mask use between April 8 and May 15, researchers from the University of Iowa found.

The IHME projected a total of 179,106 deaths in the US from Covid-19 for October 1. But the number of expected deaths drops by 33,059, to 146,047, if 95% of Americans wear masks in public, the researchers said.

What about my civil liberties?

Wearing a face mask will give you more freedom, not less, said the surgeon general.

“Some feel that facial covers infringe on their freedom of choice, but if we use them more, we will have MORE freedom to go out,” Adams, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, tweeted.

“Facial covers → less asymptomatic viral spread → more open places, and sooner! Exercise and promote your freedom by choosing to wear a facial cover!”

Murray agreed that one of the fastest ways to help control Covid-19 and help prevent a second wave of economic closings is to wear a mask.

“For almost every state we’ve seen, if we can get people to wear masks, we can not only save lives, but … we can also save the economy, because we can keep business going.”

Can I stop taking other precautions when wearing a mask?

No. It is still important to maintain social distance when possible and wash your hands frequently, especially since you could touch a contaminated surface (like the front of the mask) and then touch your face when the mask is off.

“Don’t have a false sense of security that this mask protects you exclusively from infection,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

“There are other ways to get infected.”

CNN’s Maggie Fox, Jacqueline Howard and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.