CDC: A Cloth Face Mask Protects You And Everyone Around You
Nov 11, 2020, 8:02 PM
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with the Centers for Disease Control are alerting Americans that wearing a mask not only protects people around the wearer from the spread of COVID-19, but it protects the person wearing the mask, too.
As part of the new guidance released Tuesday, the CDC said adopting universal masking policies can help states avoid future lockdowns.
“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene and adequate ventilation,” CDC officials said.
Gov. Gary Herbert took that step for Utah earlier this week.
But if you’re already wearing a mask when you should, an infectious disease doctor with Intermountain Healthcare said you should continue wearing it.
“It is more data that really shows that if two people are wearing a mask, and one of them has COVID, and they’re in proximity with one another, you can significantly reduce the risk to both of them,” said Dr. Todd Vento.
The infectious disease doctor said updated guidance is coming out now because knowledge about the virus has evolved with new studies.
“Now, they’ve got enough information to where they have data to support that it goes both ways,” said Vento. “I can protect you from me wearing it, and I can protect myself from me wearing it.“
“It’s not perfect… but it certainly reduces your chances of getting sick.” –@ashishkjha says in response to new CDC guidance that masks protect wearers as well as those around them pic.twitter.com/1nUlRwuBKZ
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 11, 2020
The CDC reports cloth masks can block virus particles exhaled by the person wearing the mask as well as block incoming infectious droplets from others. This update followed several studies that showed wearing cloth masks can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 70%.
“Try not to be within six feet of folks, and if you are, put on a mask,” Vento said, reinforcing the fact that social distancing and regular handwashing are also critical.
He said we should wear a mask whenever we are with anyone from a different household. That’s also part of the updated emergency order from our state.
If you take politics out of the mix, here’s the bottom line on masks: “They work,” said Vento. “If everyone has it on: you have it on and I have it on, I could markedly decrease — it won’t go down to zero — but it will markedly decrease the risk of me, or you, transmitting the virus.”
This is especially important because as many as 40% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, so we won’t always know when the virus is around us.
“Even more reason to just put the mask on,” said Vento.
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How do I prevent it?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.