It is odd to watch science evolving so rapidly in this pandemic. Usually, we’ll get updates from a field, but not such much and not so rapidly. For months and months, we have been told that masks prevent the wearer from spreading COVID-19 but didn’t protect the wearer from catching it from others. Now, the CDC is reporting that wearing a mask can prevent you from catching COVID-19 as well as stop you from spreading it.
“Some people may be confused since we’ve heard the guidance change on this issue,” Dr. Sonja Bartolome, from UT Southwestern, told Fox News. “However, in this COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing science work in real time. Science takes time, and we must observe the infection in real-time to understand its spread.”
The CDC is basing its new report on several studies. One found that 1,000 people in Thailand dropped their infection risk by 70 percent during “high-risk exposures” by wearing masks. Another study in more than 100 homes in Beijing found that masks lowered infection rates inside the house by 79 percent.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last two weeks has risen by almost 50 percent. Places like Iowa that never had any mask requirements before now do. If you prefer disposable masks to reusable cloth masks, you may want to buy them now as they could soon be in short supply again.
The fabric of your mask keeps the majority of your viral particles in your masks and — to some extent — other people’s out. As you have to be exposed to a certain amount of virus before you become ill, that can protect you from catching it. The latest studies show that your mask may prevent 50 percent of another person’s breathing particles from getting to your nose and mouth. If they are already wearing a mask and have cut down on what is getting out, and then you protect yourself from what could get in, you’re even safer.
Other research from Goldman Sachs found that a 15 percent increase in mask wearing could cut down the spread enough to prevent more lockdowns and store closures. Our team is in San Diego. This weekend we are being moved back to “Tier 1” because our infection rates are high in the county. Our stores are reclosing, restaurants are shutting their dining rooms again. It’s so frustrating when things start to reopen, and we begin to make plans only to have it all reclose again. Masks make your face damp. They muffle conversations. Masks hide both smiles and frowns. But, we’re willing to do it to protect ourselves, others and keep our local economies open!