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5 Reasons to Wear a Face Mask

Posted on: Aug 25, 2020

A growing number of studies point to the mask as a powerful tool that can help control the spread of the coronavirus, which so far has infected nearly 3 million Americans. Here are five reasons to wear a mask, based on the latest research.

1. Masks protect other people

The primary way the coronavirus spreads is from person to person by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Face masks, however, can block these droplets. They act as a barrier to keep virus-containing particles from escaping an infected individual and landing on another person.

2. You may not realize you are contagious

It used to be that masks were recommended only for people who knew they had COVID-19, as a way to protect others around them. When it became apparent, however, that the virus can be transmitted by people before they start showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) and by people who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) broadened its guidelines, urging everyone to wear a cloth face covering in public.

3. Masks can protect you, as well

A few studies suggest cloth face masks offer some protection for the wearer, but the protective perks are most obvious when everyone covers the mouth and nose. Think of it as a collective benefit: The more people who block the transmission of the virus with face coverings, the less virus there is circulating in the community. This reduces everyone's risk for infection.

4. Masks may help the economy recover

Recent spikes in coronavirus cases have caused some U.S. communities to pause or roll back reopening plans and have raised fears that we may need to go back to the lockdowns that we saw back in March and April. Lockdowns at the start of the outbreak brought the U.S. economy to a halt; more than 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. The widespread use of face masks, however, could significantly slow the growth rate of virus cases and reduce the need for what otherwise would be a significant hit to the economy.

5. There are few alternatives

In the absence of a vaccine and more effective drug therapies to treat people who are sick with COVID-19, the preventive measures of handwashing, physical distancing and mask wearing are the three things that we do know work. What's more, these are low-cost strategies that are relatively simple to implement.

Source: Rachel Nania, AARP, read full article